Illini Returning to Cleveland For Talent

New Fighting Illini football coach Tim Beckman is hitting the recruiting trail hard with less than a month before signing day. He is making waves in Ohio, especially at always loaded Cleveland Glenville. With two Glenville corners already heavily interested in the Illini, Beckman is also pursuing a third member of the talented Glenville secondary.

Justin Hardee plays wide receiver and cornerback for Glenville Academic Campus in Cleveland, Ohio. He exploded on the scene his senior season and is now receiving strong recruiting interest from Illinois and other schools. Hardee shares his thoughts on the past season.

"My senior season went well. I accomplished a lot and proved a lot of people wrong. And I feel like I can only get better from this point. Our team did well. We didn't reach our full potential but still produced because of our athletes."

Illinois head coach Tim Beckman first talked with the 6'-1", 185 pounder while at Toledo and was the first to offer him a scholarship. They continued their relationship when Beckman took the reins at Illinois.

"Coach Beck is my dude. He had been on me since he was at Toledo and now he is on me at Illinois. We have a great relationship. He was one of the first coaches that offered me, back when I was at a Toledo camp. He is a great coach from what I am hearing.

Hardee has also become close with Illini recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh.

"Coach Golesh is a nice dude. We have nice conversations and things like that. So him and I have a great relationship."

Hardee has some knowledge about Illinois and also got the chance to watch them play against UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Although he hasn't explored everything Illinois has to offer, he's still high on the program.

"I could see myself there this year, playing and getting on the field as a true freshman. And I can be a leader on the team."

Hardee will soon get a chance to see exactly what Illinois is like. He is scheduled to visit on the 20th of January. What are the main things he will be looking for?

"Do I see myself here for four to five years? Could I stand living there? It is my type of environment? And also, would I have fun there?"

"I want a program that will take care of me on and off the field, one that looks at me as a person and not a player, and one that my parents and coach think is best for me."

Hardee is being recruited as both cornerback and receiver by Illinois. He mentioned some strengths and weaknesses he sees within his game.

"I can honestly say I am a smart player. I have great speed and a lot of talent. As for weaknesses, I can get my footwork better, get my hands better, and I can get stronger."

Akron, Bowling Green, Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall have offered. Besides an Illinois visit, Hardee is also planning to visit Toledo and Marshall. But if all goes right, Illinois could be Hardee's last visit.

"I am waiting to see if Illinois is the place to be. I am going to see how it is there. After that, it shouldn't be too much longer until I make my decision if I like it. If I don't I will probably wait it out until signing day."

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