Illini In Early With Georgia Wide Receiver

The Fighting Illini football team is quickly reaching across the country, offering quite a few 2012 prospects recently. One state they seem to have focused on is Georgia, and one of those recent offers went to a big-bodied pass catcher from the Peach State.

Jason Croom is a 6'5 220 pound wide receiver from Norcross, Georgia. He won't blow you away with his speed, but he prides himself on using his size to his advantage by pushing around defenders.

"I'm quick off the line, and I'm very physical. I sell my fakes really well too. I'm not the fastest person in the world, but I have good speed."

At his size, he could also make an exceptional tight end, but Croom says that his focus has specifically been at receiver.

"I've been listed as both, but all I play is outside on the edge the whole time. This year I'll be taking on a bigger role, and they'll be moving me around to all the receiver spots."

With a great frame and solid strength, Croom does want to improve his running ability, especially after the catch.

"I need to work on my top end speed. I want to explode once I catch the ball and be able to go. Sometimes I hesitate, but I've been working on that. We do agilities every Tuesday and Thursday, and that's been helping."

Recruiting started early as schools realized Croom's potential. But this year he has really seen it take off and is hearing from some big names, two of which have already offered.

"I've been getting letters and stuff since 10th grade, but I've gotten a lot more this year. Those two offers just came in last Friday. Illinois and Mississippi State offered. Auburn was going to offer. The coaches said they were going to."

Croom said that he didn't really have a favorite team growing up. In fact, he wasn't very involved in organized sports until just before middle school.

"I never really started paying attention to sports until sixth grade because I never really played until fifth grade."

So what are some of the musts for Croom when it comes to choosing a school?

"I want somewhere that at least has decent academics, and I want to like the coaches. I don't want to be with a stuck-up or arrogant coach or anything like that."

Jason also has an idea for his academics as well.

"I'd probably want to major in sports management or business."

Croom hasn't really been taking many visits thus far but has a few in the works. Thus far he has only been able to see one school.

"My first junior day was at Florida last weekend. That's the only thing I've ever been to. I'm trying to go to FSU and Bama, and I've been talking to my mom to get up to Illinois too. Coach (Ron) West was saying it'd be pretty easy to get up there too."

Illinois, having offered, is in the mix for him. He has been in touch with receivers coach Paul Petrino in addition to West.

"Coach West and Coach Petrino have been talking to me. The first time I talked to Coach Petrino was on the phone. We're just starting up our relationship right now. Illinois runs the same offense as us. We run a pro-style too."

Despite his interest, he admits that he hasn't ever seen Illinois play before. However, he would like to change that and check out the Illini.

"I mean I've never seen them play. Coach wants me to check it out for myself. I haven't set anything in stone yet, but I want to get up there sometime though."

Croom isn't in a hurry to make his choice as he's sure to get more offers, but he doesn't want to let the recruiting process become a distraction for him and his team.

"I probably want to make my decision early so that I don't have to think about it for too long. Probably before my season starts or maybe sometime during the season if I have to."

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