Illini Recruiting LB From Near Zook's Home

As Fighting Illini coach Ron Zook scoured the country for football talent, he couldn't help but notice a talented player from near his home town. Last season, Mason Monheim of Orville, Ohio, made quite the impact on his town's proud football community. Because of his tenacity and leadership skills, the middle linebacker's name is now coming up on recruiting boards across the nation.

This past season, Mason Monheim helped lead Orville High School to a 7-3 regular season. With many young players on the team, Orville's season went much better than many expected.

"We exceeded our expectations with a lot of underclassman on our team," Monheim said.

With a strong season, Monheim's name started to come up on many recruiting boards. This past offseason, he has received official offers from Illinois, Kent State, and Miami (Ohio).

Even with many smaller schools showing interest, Monheim believes a strong showing during the summer and upcoming season can help him rack up more major offers.

"I'm hoping that some more coaches will be able to come to the school to watch me this summer so that I might be able to pick up a few more offers."

Monheim, an agile focal point for his team's 4-3 defense, has been assessed to play college football at several different positions. Teams have looked at him as a middle or outside linebacker depending on the college system.

"Schools haven't really specified where they would play me yet, " Monheim said.

Northwestern has approached Monheim about the idea of playing strong safety in college. He mentioned that playing safety is a challenge that he would be more than willing to take on if that's what his college coaches asked of him.

As a pretty quick and versatile player, Monheim may be suited for several positions in the college game.

"I feel like I read well and move quickly from sideline to sideline."

As the offseason progresses, Monheim has turned his focus to taking as many college visits as he can.

"I've visited some pretty prestigious schools so far. I didn't have a whole lot of expectations going into this, but it's been fun. The difference between the facilities in college and high school is unbelievable."

Monheim hopes to take several more visits, including a potential visit to the University of Illinois, during his upcoming spring break. Other schools like Ohio State, Nebraska, Iowa, and Boston College have also shown interest in the linebacker.

The future dentist-to-be knows that he has a couple of things to work on to help impress the college scouts.

"I just want to get faster this offseason while gaining weight. I want to be a leader this upcoming season and to just go out and play. Hopefully, if we do that, the scoreboard will come out in our favor."

Monheim has been a very good player for Orville High School, and he hopes that he can do the same this upcoming season.

"We have some seniors to replace, but we still have pretty high expectations.

If Monheim continues to improve, the linebacker should have no problem finding the right fit at the college level.

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