Cornerback Sean Draper is a prospect quickly on the rise at Cleveland's Glenville Academic Campus. A program that perennially makes runs at state titles fell a little short this year, but Draper and his defense held strong.
"We went 7 and 3. I mean, I'm at Glenville so our expectations are to win it all every year. It was mostly the offense, but we played well."
As a defense, the Tarblooders forced a number of turnovers throughout the year.
"Our defense as a whole, I think we forced at least two or three fumbles each game, and the secondary had 3 or 4 interceptions each. Our MLB had one and our OLB had 2 or 3."
Draper put up great stats in all three phases of the game.
"I had 4 interceptions and I think like 15 pass deflections. I think I forced 3 fumbles and had 7 punt returns for TD. I also had 5 TD on offense receiving."
It's easy to see why Draper has such great potential. He's a natural athlete with great size and strength. He isn't just a hard hitter either. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he can be dangerous.
"Right now I run about a 4.46 or 4.47 at 6'-1" and 180 pounds. I don't usually max but last offseason I did 245 (pounds) like 8 or 10 times. I'm back to that. I'm a pretty physical corner, but if I get the ball in my hands I can make moves and return it too."
With such great playmaking ability, Draper originally was placed on offense. But he found his natural place on defense.
"I love defense. I played offense all the way until half the year, but once I started on defense I loved it."
Draper is familiar with new Illinois head man Tim Beckman, having interacted with him at Toledo. He's in his early stages of discussions about Illinois, but he's definitely interested in the Orange & Blue.
"I want to see what it's about and how the new coaching staff is and what the plan is."
Draper has already gotten a chance to speak with Beckman, and he is making Draper a high priority for this class.
"It was really cool. He's saying they need a corner, and he wanted me to be one of the first people he contacted. They were recruiting me at Toledo too. I got recruited by them after I camped with them in early June."
Illinois isn't Draper's first Big Ten offer, but he will make Illinois one of his official visits just a couple of weeks before National Signing Day.
"I have three other big ten offers, so it's good to play on a big stage. But I'm looking for comfort. That's why I need to go check it out January 20th."
Illinois has targeted a number of Glenville players in the past and made a good impression.
"I've heard things from people from Glenville that were looking at Illinois, and they all say Illinois is a really nice school."
With 7 punt return touchdowns this past year, Draper could surely bring some excitement and electricity to the return game at Illinois that has been lacking for some time. It's something he's interested in.
"I haven't talked to Coach Beckman about punt returning yet, but a lot of the schools recruiting me want me there."
Illinois has also offered Glenville's other starting cornerback V'Angelo Bentley. The two have talked about recruiting and the possibility of playing together in the past.
"Everybody pretty much talks together about recruiting. It's something we could build off of because we work out together after school."
Draper talks about what will determine his choice of colleges down the road.
"Really just all-around comfort with the football team. I want to be successful both athletically and academically. I want to make sure they have something close to pre-med for my major."
Draper has made two college visits and has two to go.
"I took a visit to Hawaii and Iowa, and then in January I have a visit to Louisville and Illinois."
It may be awhile before Draper makes his choice, but Illinois seems to have planted itself firmly in the race.