Matt LaCosse had originally committed to Minnesota last summer, but he changed his mind when head coach Tim Brewster was fired. Since Illinois was the first school to offer him a scholarship, he reconsidered his options. His official visit to the UI campus last weekend convinced him to commit to his state school. He explains why.
"When I went to Illinois, I really enjoyed the place. They were all great guys and had great team chemistry. I really liked the coaches, I got along with each and every one of them.
"We sat down and talked offense and how I could help them in the future. I liked the way we had the same philosophy. So I think it's a great overall fit for me and what I'm looking for."
He has no regrets about his change of heart.
"It was kind of a blessing in disguise. I love Jerry Kill at Minnesota, I think he's a great guy. I love the whole coaching staff there, they were recruiting me at NIU. I get along with them very well and have the greatest respect for them. They're gonna be successful there, there's no doubt in my mind. I just think Illinois was the right fit for me."
The Naperville North senior is glad his family won't have to drive so far to watch him play.
"Yeah, it's a big difference. I'm real close to my family, so I'm glad they can come see me play very easily."
Illini offensive coordinator Paul Petrino is his recruiting coach. LaCosse played quarterback in high school, but his 6'-6", 230 pound frame is much better suited to the tight end/H-back position at Illinois. Petrino and tight end coach Chip Long shared their vision for him.
"They see me more as a move guy, more of a receiver rather than a blocking tight end, which I'm not. I'm really glad they see me that way because that's how I see myself in a way."
Illini freshman Evan Wilson started at that position all season, indicating a lack of depth. Illini coaches feel LaCosse can contribute early.
"They said they would be surprised if I didn't get playing time next year, so I'm really excited. I'm really looking forward to it. I believe them."
LaCosse and his fellow official visitors watched an Illini bowl practice Saturday. He enjoyed it.
"It was fast, it was upbeat. They got a lot done in a short amount of time. That's the kind of practice I like."
LaCosse has known quarterback commitment Reilly O'Toole for a long time, and the two should become a viable weapon for the Illini in the future.
"Me and Reilly have been competing against each other since third grade. We've kind of been rivals in all that time. I guess we've kind of developed a friendship over that time. So I'm really looking forward to going to Illinois and working out with him. It's gonna be good."
He saw another long-term acquaintance on the trip also. Running back/slot receiver commitment Josh Ferguson also took his visit last weekend.
"I've known Josh Ferguson since fourth grade. We played against each other in Little League football."
LaCosse has a general idea about his college major.
"I don't know what kind of Business right now, but I'm kind of leaning toward Finance."