Ray Buchanan Jr. Wants To Check Out Illini

The Fighting Illini football team received a visit from a good-looking lineman from Suwanee, Georgia, this spring. Now, his defensive back teammate is talking about coming to the Midwest to check out the Illini for himself.

If you follow football frequently, you'll recognize the name Ray Buchanan, a veteran NFL cornerback. His playing days are over, but now his son is following his footsteps.

Ray Buchanan Jr., defensive back from Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia, is garnering a lot of college interest. He made his mark last fall despite his team's imperfect season.

"Last year we had a pretty young team. Our whole secondary was juniors, and most of the team too. We're looking for people to step up on the team. I think the fifth game I came in and played both safety and corner.

We were 5-0 through our first five games, and we kind of went downhill. I don't want to point any fingers, but I don't think we were focused enough."

Buchanan shared assets he feels locked him into the rotation?

"I think my quick hips and feet. I get physical with receivers when I'm in man. I think I feel more comfortable playing man press coverage."

The 5'-10", 170 pounder understands he needs to be more well-versed and also work on his zone coverage.

"I need to work on my hands and catching the ball. I need to work on my cover skills for cover 3 and all that."

With a resource like his dad available, Buchanan has taken advantage of the opportunity to learn from the skilled corner. He often works out with his dad.

"My dad has helped me out with a whole bunch of stuff over the offseason. Me, him, and a couple of my other teammates do db drills with him. We work in 1 on 1's and work on jamming and staying over the top."

Looking ahead to college, Buchanan has lofty goals. He wants to help his team win often.

"I'm looking for somewhere that I can make an early impact with a school and come in and be a playmaker and make a difference in the program. I want to help my team get to a conference championship at least, maybe even a national championship."

At this point, Buchanan has already accumulated numerous offers from North to South. Of those, four currently stand out to him.

"I have 8 offers right now. Of the schools talking to me, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Purdue and Illinois are the ones right now. Those coaches I talk to about every week."

One thing to consider is the fact that Buchanan's father attended Louisville. But the communication between coaches and players is a big factor in his interest in a school.

"The coaches said they were going to come visit, and I've been talking to their coaches a lot too. They just haven't been communicating with me as much as these other schools that are really interested."

Buchanan is forming a strong relationship with Illinois coach Chip Long. One of his teammates visited Illinois this spring and returned to Georgia with plenty of positive things to say.

"Their coaching staff is really cool. Chip Long is a really cool coach. He came down to visit me the first day of spring practice. Alex Jauregui went down to visit them, and he was really feeling Illinois. I have a bunch of family in Chicago."

Though he didn't make it up in the spring, Buchanan is hoping to check out the Illini soon. He may even make the trip with Jauregui, with whom he talks recruiting quite often.

"I'm planning on coming up sometime during the summer. Probably during June. I'm pretty sure Alex will come back up with me. Alex and I have the same lunch, and we talk about what schools are interested in us. That it would be cool if we both went to the same school."

Another Illinois prospect who Buchanan has a close friendship with is Norcross, Georgia, wide receiver Jason Croom. The two have squared off before on the field, and their relationship extends further than just football.

"Jason comes over and hangs out a couple times every 2 or 3 weeks. Every time, we talk we talk about football. We also talk about going to the same schools too.

We went up against each other, but they rarely threw the ball to our side. He got me one time on a post corner, and I told him I wanted to go again. I got him on the next one.

He's pretty interested in Mississippi State too. I think he might come up to Illinois with Alex and I so that it's easier for all of us."

Buchanan hopes to not only strengthen his relationship with Coach Long but also expand his network to the other Illinois coaches as summer draws near.

"I think we have a really good relationship right now. I think toward the season and the end of our spring practice, I think I'll get along pretty well with the other coaches too and get to know Coach Long better too."

Since he hasn't seen the campus yet for himself, what makes Illinois appealing to Buchanan?

"Coach Long said I'd be able to make an early impact on the program since they said they could potentially have guys leave early and that they have a few seniors that would graduate. So I'd have a high chance of competing early if I went there. He said once I get to campus, I'm going to fall in love with campus. So I'm waiting to see that."

Buchanan did make a few visits this spring to schools in his region. One was his dad's alma mater.

"I actually visited Louisville this spring. I went to visit Florida and Georgia for junior days too."

Buchanan doesn't want to waste any time taking his game to the next level, both figuratively and literally. He's hoping to end the recruiting process early and move on to college early, too.

"I think my goal toward the season is probably to commit early so I can enroll early and get a step ahead of everyone else. Probably sometime before the season starts. I actually want to win state this year since I think we have a real high chance of going deep in the playoffs."

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