If there was ever a recruit who seemed to belong at the University of Illinois, it has been Vontrell Williams. The Chicago Mt. Carmel defensive lineman has stated his love for his state school ever since his Junior Day visit in February. Friday he made that love official, committing to Illinois.
There were anxious moments throughout his recruitment. He had a flirtation with Georgia Tech and reduced his choices to the Illini, Indiana and Kansas. But in the end, there was one overriding factor that helped him make up his mind.
"I've been talking with my family, and we feel my best place would be my own back yard, the University of Illinois."
The 6'-2", 275 pounder, who has added 25 pounds of muscle this past year, saw an opening for early playing time with the Illini after three defensive tackle recruits never made it to campus.
"I wanted to go somewhere I could play early and make an impact as a freshman."
He will get that chance at Illinois. While it is uncertain whether he will remain at defensive end or bulk up and play inside, he has a skill that has impressed Illini coaches.
"Coach (Keith) Gilmore, defensive line coach, loves my hands. He told me that when a lot of guys come into college, they have to learn to play with their hands. But with me it's almost like a steal because I'm already there."
Williams plays for a quality high school program under long-time coach Frank Lenti, whose son is a video expert on the Illini staff after graduating from the UI. He follows numerous other top Mt. Carmel players who have played for their home state, including Simeon Rice. This experience should also help his quest to play early.
Williams realizes a football team needs many top players. He is dedicated to helping the Illini recruit a top class to go with him.
"I want to come in with a great class, and that really starts off with peer recruiting. If I do my job as a peer recruiter, we should be able to get back to the National Championship."
Williams is the ninth player to commit to the Illini for the 2012 signing class.