J.J. Robertson was admittedly shaken by the coaching change at Illinois, but he remained committed to his home-state school. And this weekend, any of his remaining concerns were put to rest once he got to know the new Illini coaching staff.
"This visit felt like, with all the new coaches trying to get to know everybody, they did a really good job, and they made everyone feel welcome. It was a big family relationship."
Former Illini coach Paul Petrino originally recruited Robertson to Illinois, but with the new staff it's been a group effort.
"It's a little bit of everybody. I can't pick who individually. All of the coaches talk to me and communicate with me. That's one thing I really like. Everybody's involved, not just one person."
Robertson is a versatile playmaker, as he proved in high school at Lincoln-Way East. He spent a lot of time this weekend getting to know his future position coach and even learned a thing or two about his position.
"They want me to come in as a receiver. I was with Coach (Billy) Gonzales all weekend. We got to know each other real well. Coach is all about making me a better player. We had group meetings by position, and I could tell he was serious about me coming in to make plays."
Fellow Chicago area commit Vontrell Williams joined Robertson on the visit. The two were acquainted before, but this weekend brought them even closer as future teammates.
"Vontrell and I are definitely a lot closer than we were after this weekend. Coach (Tim) Beckman put both of us in charge of talking to all of the other guys. They also wanted us to put a good word in the ear of the Florida guys."
The new coaches are hoping Robertson and Williams will be ambassadors to Chicago recruits, many of whom have left the state for other opportunities in recent years.
"That's actually what I'm thinking. The coaches want us to spread the word in the Chicago area. Chicago produces a lot of talent, and a lot of guys are running off to other states to go make a name when they should be staying in-state and making a name for the program."
Robertson knows what's expected of him in terms of work ethic and preparation. He's working harder now than ever to get ready for his Illinois playing days.
"I definitely need to keep running routes every day. There aren't any days off. I need to work harder than I ever have. There's a big difference between high school and college. That and time management."
One way Robertson has been staying on top of his game is helping organize and participate in athlete-led 7-on-7 competitions at local sports facilities. Aided by recent Oklahoma commit David Smith, Robertson recently helped organize a group of over 60 area athletes for competition.
"It was a competitive event. We had guys from Simeon, Bremen, Lincoln-Way East and North. We definitely drew some attention. We like to do things like that to stay sharp on our game. That's definitely something we'll keep doing between now and college."