Ashely Lowery Impressed By Illinois

With all the talent evaluators and all the Internet websites devoted to high school football prospects these days, it is hard for a top athlete to be overlooked by the major colleges. But Ashely Lowery comes from a small town in Georgia, and he is under the radar despite excellent ability. Lowery visited Illinois this weekend and came away impressed.

Ashely Lowery is an upcoming senior at White County High School. The Cleveland, Georgia, native visited Illinois last weekend for the Spring Game, and he found much to his liking.

"It was great...a lot better than I expected," Lowery explains. "All the coaches are great laid back men, and the campus is amazing. I liked it a lot. It was well worth the trip.

"It was bigger and more well laid out than I expected. We rode around a lot, but I mainly just saw all the academics and stuff related to the football team."

Lowery observed the Illinois Spring Game and enjoyed it as well.

"They have some good athletes. It's good to see top-notch college teams up close like that. It's good to see how the speed and the coaching is different than high school."

Versatility is a tremendous asset on the football field, and Lowery has that in abundance according to his coach Gregg Segraves.

"I think one of the things that makes him unique is there's a question mark of where he plays. He's possibly a free safety, maybe an outside linebacker, possibly a running back, possibly a receiver. Depending on how much more he grows and his weight gain is probably gonna determine a lot where he'll play at the next level.

"For us he's a running back and free safety. We also use him as a receiver and do some different things with him. He is quite versatile."

Confusion over his college position was apparent with Illini coaches, but only because the offensive and defensive staffs might wish to fight over him.

"That was a big thing we talked about. They didn't realize how big I was. I've gained 18 pounds since football season. From being 6'-1", 180 during football season, I'm 6'-2", 198 right now. They were saying I could play safety, or I could possibly play outside linebacker.

"And then the offensive coaches talked to me, and they were telling me I could play wide receiver and running back for them. So it's more like I'm being looked at as an athlete instead of just for one position because I can do so much."

Lowery isn't picky. He's a consummate team player and will play wherever he's needed.

"It doesn't matter what side of the ball I play on. I just want to play for a good team and help them out, and get a good education while I'm doing it."

Lowery could be recruited for his leadership skills alone. But that is just one of his two main attributes as a player.

"I'm a competitor, that's the main thing. No matter what the score, I'm gonna compete until the last buzzer. I play hard no matter what.

"At my school, my main position is running back. I guess you could say we don't have the best offensive linemen, so you have to make plays for yourself now and then. Just being able to lead the team and make us as good as we are as a group together, I've got to keep pushing.

"There's a lot of good players at any level, but for them to become one to make the team good, that's what our coaches are looking for. That's what I strive to do ever since I was a freshman. We made history my freshman year by getting to the playoffs for the first time in AAA, so we're trying to get back there."

Tight end coach Greg Nord is the Illini's connection to Lowery.

"I've known him for three years. I went and met him at Louisville this past football season. We bonded there and made a great connection. He liked me a lot, and he stuck with me through Illinois."

White County is often ignored by college recruiters. Lowery provides a possible reason.

"It's relatively small. Buford and Gainesville are the two big cities up here, and we're like 22 miles out of Gainesville. It seems like all the coaches and teams will stop at Buford and Gainesville but bypass Cleveland.

"There's not a lot of top-notch athletes to come out of here. Me and one of the coaches' kids are working hard to put White County out there. And there are some good athletes coming up here."

He agrees that may be a big reason why he is under recruited.

"Yeah, that's what my coach is saying too. He's getting me out there, and now there's a bunch of coaches coming to my spring training here in the next two weeks."

Illinois has offered Lowery a scholarship. What other schools is he considering?

"Last weekend I went to UAB and visited there, watched their spring game and talked to their coaches. And they told me pretty much the same thing I heard from Illinois about potentially offering me. But they want to know a position I can play at instead of being all over the place.

"And then I've been talking to Vanderbilt a lot. And I've talked to Georgia, Ole Miss, Duke and Wake Forest. But from this weekend, of all the schools I've been to, my two favorites are Vanderbilt and Illinois."

Another possible reason is his forty time. Segraves says the time matters little on the field.

"He's not a blistering type kid on 40 times. But he's one of those kids that doesn't get caught on the football field. We've gotten him at a 4.65 to 4.67, somewhere in that area. So 40 time isn't something that's gonna stand out and be great, but he's just the type of kid that doesn't get caught on the field much."

Lowery runs the 100 meters, 110 hurdles and 4 X 100 meter relay for his track program, so he is a quick starter. Lowery thinks he know why he is faster on a football field than running a 40 yard dash.

"I just feel like 40's are overrated because everyone can run a 40. Some will have a good time and some will have a bad time. But in a game it's so much different because it's more intense and more motivating. Everything is moving faster, so you feel like, when you get in the game, you do what you can.

"I feel so much faster when I'm out there running with people. For the team, you have to get away from this one man because the game is on the line. But with the 40, you're running by yourself.

"When I was a sophomore, there was this kid around here who was committed to Georgia. He was all this hype, and he ran a 4.4 as a linebacker. I got the ball one time and ran right by him. We got in a foot race, and he did not catch me."

Lowery, who wants to study law, sounds like the kind of football player who can help any number of colleges win games. He may not wish to extend his recruitment out all year long.

"I'm gonna wait until after spring practice to commit anywhere, but Illinois is definitely at the top of the list after what I saw this weekend. I didn't think it would be that big of a school and that nice."

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