Valentine Still Hasn't Reduced His Choices

The Fighting Illini football team is searching for a few good defensive tackles for its 2012 recruiting class. Two seniors graduate, and there is a lack of depth at the position. Among those the Illini would like to attract is Edwardsville star Vincent Valentine. He has multiple offers, but he visited the UI campus Saturday and says the Illini are still under consideration.

Edwardsville defensive tackle Vincent Valentine was on the Illinois campus Saturday, but he wasn't on a recruiting visit. Andre Collins, an assistant coach at his high school, leads a large group of Team First players who camped in Memorial Stadium. Valentine didn't come to work out.

"My coach asked me to come help him. I've been doing this since my eighth grade year, so I guess I really don't need it. I have like 20 offers, and I've been through all of this before."

The 6'-4", 300 pounder needed some time free from all the recruiting distractions before the start of his high school season.

"Things are going good. I'm kind of relaxing right now, getting away from the recruiting process a little bit. Everything's still going well."

One Big 10 school appears to lead for his services, although it is early in the recruiting process.

"I still have Nebraska as my number one school right now. And I'm still trying to figure out the rest of my top 10. I'm not ready to make a commitment."

Has he visited the Cornhuskers?

"No, I haven't visited Nebraska yet. I'm probably gonna visit next week or the week after."

Is Illinois still a possibility?

"Yeah, it is."

With all the interest in his services, Valentine isn't able to keep with his original timetable.

"My initial plan was to narrow it down to five schools before the season starts. Hopefully, these next couple weeks I can take a couple visits to narrow my list down. The plans I had at the beginning didn't really work out. I'll probably have to cut my list to 10 by September."

He did have a chance for a few camps this summer.

"I've gone to the Illinois, Notre Dame and Northwestern camps. Other than that, I didn't go to any camps."

He missed about half the Illinois camp with a sprained ankle. He has it back in top shape now.

"It disappointed me that I sprained my ankle here. I had a little setback, but I've recovered from it. I'm doing good now.

"I've been working on strengthening my ankle with my trainer and just going after it on the field and not worrying about it too much. That's when you mess it up again. So I try not to think about it."

Valentine expects to have a busy visit schedule this fall.

"I already had plans to attend the Nebraska-Ohio State game. I think it's the same week as our Homecoming, so I'm not doing that. I'll probably go to the Nebraska-Michigan State game. I have to look at the schedule, but I probably will come down to an Illinois game. I come down here for a game every year regardless, so I'll be here sometime."

He was asked if he is paying attention to the depth charts at his various school possibilities.

"Yes, I am looking at depth charts. It's one of the factors. I don't have to be a starter or anything, but I at least would like to get in some games and see what the college experience is and work my way to a starter position by at least my sophomore year."

Illinois has a definite need for defensive tackles. Is he aware of that fact?

"They definitely told me about that."

Edwardsville struggled on the field last fall. Valentine believes improvements are on the horizon despite a lack of experience.

"I think we look pretty good. We just came back from one of our team camps. We played against one of the top teams in the state, and we looked pretty good. We've just got to get our confidence up, and we'll be a good team this year.

"We definitely don't have a lot of guys back. We only have two starters returning on each side of the ball, so we're pretty young."

Valentine, who claims a 27 ACT score, may have leanings at this time. But his recruitment is far from over.

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