Quality defensive tackles are always difficult to recruit. Everyone wants the great ones, and there are few in that category. Illinois is working with a few who fit that description, including a hard-nosed player out of Reserve, Louisiana, named Gerron Borne.
Borne has good size for a defensive tackle, but he doesn't rely on his size alone. He knows hard work is what breeds success, and he has that mentality on every play.
"I'm intense. I always go 100 percent, and I always do my job. I try my best, no matter what team we play, to help my team out."
That hard work and intensity extends off the field and into the weight room. Borne possesses quite a bit of strength for his weight already, but he hopes to build upon that.
"My get off and my hand placement are good at the line. I bench 330 and squat 460. I'd like to be benching 360 by the end of the season and squat 500.
"I'm 6'-2", 270. I haven't run a 40 time lately, but my last was 5 flat."
Borne's East Saint John High School team will rely on him heavily to make plays on a regular basis this fall. Having to play just about every down will be a demanding task, but he's up for the challenge.
"I really want to work on being an every-down player. I know I won't be leaving the field at all this year. That and my technique. That way, even when I'm tired I don't want to have bad technique.
I need to get my training and conditioning up so I can play hard all four quarters, so that I can be the best defensive tackle I can be. There's always room for improvement."
Borne has already made a great impression on numerous college coaches. He talked about some of the things that will be most important when he selects a school.
"Number one is the graduation rate. The second would be the depth chart at my position. The third would be finding a place I can call home."
Borne has gotten offers from quite a few schools, one of which is from Illinois. Illinois hasn't traditionally ventured into Louisiana, but Coach Ron West has ties to the area and has formed a bond with Borne.
"Coach West from Illinois has been recruiting me. They offered me probably a couple months ago.
"Coach West is real cool. He's laid back, and I can relate to him. We talk just about every other week, and he's real down to earth. He keeps it real with me. He's a good coach and a good person overall."
Being some distance from the Midwest, Borne hasn't yet visited Illinois. But he already has plans to see the campus this fall in-depth.
"I haven't heard a whole lot about Illinois, but when coach West and I talk, he seems like a great guy. The facilities sound really good, and they have a pretty favorable depth chart.
Hopefully I can visit and learn more when I get up there. I plan on taking one of my officials to Illinois."
Right now, Borne doesn't really have his college decision on his mind. He's looking to focus on his senior season for now, but he won't ignore that gut feeling if the right situation comes along.
"To tell you the truth, I don't really even know. At one point it was before my season, but I don't really have a plan for committing. Whenever the time is right."
In the meantime, Borne has been busy doing his part to get his team prepared to overcome the stumbling block that has tripped them up in the past.
"We want to be state champions. We went 9-2 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. We haven't gotten past the first round for the last 5 years, so we're trying to break that."
Fall promises to be a pivotal season for Borne, as he not only wraps up a high school career but also prepares for his future at the next level.