Plenty has changed about Brandon McIlwain since this time last year. His skills and offer list have risen together with his junior year on tap.
The Newton, Pa., Council Rock North four-star quarterback wants to focus mostly on his upcoming season, which is why he cut his double digit list of suitors to just six programs Tuesday night.
South Carolina, Penn State, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Duke, and Florida, and made the cut for the 6-foot, 204 pound class of 2016 passer. The list is not ordered, and McIlwain said he intends to visit each of those schools for a game this fall.
“I wanted to narrow it down so I could focus on the season,” McIlwain said. “With all the coaches I’ve been talking to and keeping in touch with, I’m trying to build a relationship and make a good decision.
“It was important to me to cut it down, because right now, that and a good season are most important.”
McIlwain detailed why each program made his top six, and the reasons were many. They ranged from pedigree to quarterback production and proximity to home.
A breakdown is below:
South Carolina: It’s a place where I’ve been talking to [quarterbacks] Coach [G.A.] Mangus there for a long time, and throughout the whole process. I have family there – my grandma lives there – and it’s a place that feels like home and a place I could see myself fitting in.
Penn State: It’s an in-state school, and very easy for my parents to access. They’re doing great things over there with [head] Coach [James] Franklin. He’s a great recruiter, and they’re getting a lot of great prospects. [Quarterbacks] Coach [Ricky] Rahne and I have a great relationship, and I’ve been talking to him for a while. It’s another place I could see myself at.
Auburn: Auburn has a great thing going for them, a lot of good recruits, and a beautiful campus with a lot of good facilities. [Offensive coordinator Rhett] Lashlee is a great coach. I love talking to him, and [head] Coach [Gus] Malzahn is a great guy and an offensive guru. There is really no coach like that, and the offense my school runs is Auburn’s offense, so it’s already a place I could see myself fitting in at really well.
Virginia Tech: I was able to visit [in the spring], but I built a good relationship with the coaches before that. I was then able to visit, and I had a great visit. I really liked [quarterbacks] Coach [Scot] Loeffler, and he proved to me that it’s a place that he develops quarterbacks at very well and a place that I could see myself fitting in really well at.
Duke: Duke is a really good academic school, and they had a great season last year. I really like [associate head] Coach [Scott] Montgomery and [head] Coach [Dave] Cutcliffe, and both are great developers of quarterbacks. Coach Montgomery coached and played in the NFL and college, and I really like the coaching staff and could see myself going to school there.
Florida: [Quarterbacks] Coach [Kurt] Roper offered me, and he’s a great guy I have a great relationship with. He’s a guy that can develop quarterbacks very well, and Florida is also a great location. It’s a very nice place, and the campus and facilities make it a place I could see myself being at.
McIlwain is unsure of when he will make a decision, yet certain he will know when it’s time to do so.
“I want to make sure I make the most informed and best decision to make, so I’m not going to rush it,” he said. “But I do want to make it as early as I feel right so I can help the school I commit to recruit.”