Henry Dickinson, a defensive end/linebacker from the Memphis University School in Tennessee, was a relatively unknown name until about a month ago when he came to check out the Illini at the Rantoul High School scrimmage during Camp Rantoul. Needless to say he liked what he saw, so much so that he decided to give his verbal pledge to Illinois.
"I thought about it more and more. I wanted to get into the season and get back into the groove of football and make sure I had my head on straight, and it just kind of seemed like where I wanted to go."
Dickinson had a feeling that Illinois was the perfect match for him, and his visit confirmed it.
"I was 100% impressed with the facilities, their game plan and their schemes. How I fit into their schemes. I feel like I fit in without having to change my style of play."
And what does Dickinson consider his style of play?
"I'm a 6'4 rangy guy that can cover well in open field and make up ground. I love coming off the edge and blitzing and causing havoc in the backfield and shedding blocks."
In addition to what he was able to see on his visit, Dickinson is also familiar with a couple of the coaches and even one of the players.
"I feel like I have a strong relationship with Coach Vic (Koenning). I feel like I'll be spending a lot of time with him. Coach (Ron) Zook is a great guy. He knows what he's doing. I haven't talked as much with Coach (Ron) West. I haven't gotten to know any of the players yet, but I played against Jon Brown when he was a senior though."
Speaking of Coach Vic, his new bandit position has brought an intriguing twist to an Illinois defense that has noticeably stepped up its intensity level from years past. Dickinson was recruited as a bandit and from the looks of things, fits the form of a prototypical bandit candidate.
"My second visit, I went and saw the scrimmage. I kept an eye on the bandit position, and it really features everything I do best so I think I can excel there."
Aside from the football program, Dickinson shared the same sentiment that many who choose Illinois tend to feel when they visit.
"I think I can fit in well. I want to major in business. I got to see the business school, and it's one of the top programs in the country. I just love the campus and felt at home."
Aside from Illinois, the only school that actively pursued Dickinson was Southern Mississippi, but the lack of attention from numerous schools doesn't bother him one bit.
"It was really laid back. I didn't really go to many camps or get my name out there, and most of that was because I didn't have time this summer. I wasn't really too consumed with how many schools I could have after me either. It was pretty low key."
Dickinson is already well into his senior season, and both he and his team have a couple of things they would like to do to remain successful.
"We're 3-1 so far. We want to repeat as state champions. I just want to finish the year well. I don't want to slack off now that I've committed."