Official Visit Reinforces Spencer's Decision

Among many other tasks, new Fighting Illini football coach Tim Beckman has needed to convince previous commitments to remain loyal to the program. Joe Spencer has been committed to the Illini since this summer. He spent the weekend on campus for his official visit and left more sure than ever he made the right decision.

With recruiting in the final stretch for the 2012 class, Illinois coaches are making up for lost time and hosting a number of players for visits. One of the players who traveled to Illinois this past weekend was Ohio lineman Joseph Spencer.

Spencer had been to Illinois before, but he got to go much more in-depth with the team and coaches on this visit.

"On this visit, I got to hang out with a lot more of the guys. I hung out with Tony Durkin and Graham Pocic a lot. I got to know the new staff too and what they're all about."

Spencer got a taste of the new football culture at Illinois, including the new attitude offensive line coach Luke Butkus is hoping to bring to his offensive front.

"Sitting down with Coach Beckman was nice. It was a quick meeting, but getting to sit down with him and Coach Butkus and talking about all the history. They talked about playing with a mean streak and how we'll help lead the team.

"The coaches were with us pretty much the whole time. It was good talking with Coach Butkus about his philosophy and what he wants us to do on and off the field."

Butkus paid Spencer a visit just a few days before at his home in Ohio, and the visit primed him for his official visit.

"The in-home was good. He, my parents and I all had breakfast, and he talked about his past with the university. He talked about why he loves it and what he sees for the future there."

After both the in-home and the official visit, Spencer can rest assured that two of his big priorities in his college have been met.

"Coach Beckman is big on academics and family, which are both big for me."

The Mason High School star has also been thinking about what number he'd like to wear once he gets to Illinois. If he does end up wearing the one he wants, he'll have some big shoes to fill, and not just Jeff Allen's.

"I think I'm going to be number 71. It's Coach Butkus's old number too. He kind of messed with me about it when we all threw on our jerseys. But it's really cool with him playing and being a champion at Illinois and with who his uncle is. He cares about the university as a whole and not just the football program."

In addition to his future coaches, Spencer spent time with some other fellow commits and recruits.

"All of us pretty much hung out, but myself, Robbie Bain and Joe Warburg got to spend a lot of time together. It was good getting to know all of them better."

Being on the offensive side of the ball, meeting his future offensive coordinator was also important.

"I talked to Coach (Bobby) Gonzales too. They're trying to figure out X's and O's and figure out what they need to do to adapt. Most of the coaches toured campus with us since a lot of them are new too."

Spencer will formalize his commitment come signing day February 1 at his school.

"We do a school-wide signing with all the athletes, and all of the football players go fax in letters of intent that day too. I'm really looking forward to it."

Between now and then, Spencer has his sights set on a couple other recruits he hopes to have play with him at Illinois, but didn't say who specifically.

"There's a couple guys I've been after. We were all giving them our pitch over the weekend. Hopefully we can get them in, and I'll keep talking to all the guys to get them to come."

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