Mike Svetina: Opportunity Too Great To Pass

The Fighting Illini football team added to its recruiting list with the commitment of Cleveland St. Ignatius linebacker Mike Svetina. The Cleveland Plain Dealer Defensive Player Of The Year was originally committed to Miami of Ohio but changed his mind after a weekend visit to Illinois. He talks about his decision in this report.

Mike Svetina visited Illinois this weekend and was impressed enough to commit to the Fighting Illini. The Cleveland St. Ignatius linebacker explains his reasons for choosing the Illini.

"It was an easy decision. The combination of academics and athletics is very impressive. I felt like it was a good fit for me."

Was it difficult to tell Miami of Ohio coaches you were decommitting?

"It was a little bit, but the opportunity that presented itself...it's a dream you may not have the rest of your life. So I felt I had to take advantage of it."

Svetina already knew some of the coaching staff since they were recruiting him when they were at Toledo. Linebacker coach Mike Ward was primarily responsible for the recruitment.

"Coach Ward is my recruiting coach. He's a great guy and knows the game well. The whole coaching staff is a family atmosphere. And their dedication to winning is really impressive."

The official visit put the Illini over the top for the 6'-2", 220 pounder.

"Henry Dickinson was my host for the weekend. He's a great guy. I met a lot of the other players, and they showed me around the town. It was a fun time.

"I saw a lot of the campus, and I saw the Business school. I want to pursue a major in Business, and a lot of their majors are ranked nationally. I was really impressed with everything."

Svetina played all over the field for St. Ignatius.

"In high school, I played a safety/linebacker. I feel that allows me to have a lot of experience with coverage and things like that. At the same time, if we were playing a running team I would be in the box. So it was a really good combination of both."

Where does Illinois plan to use you?

"They want me to play one of the two inside linebackers, either MIKE or WILL."

Svetina was not only the Cleveland Plain Dealer's choice as their Defensive Player Of The Year, but he served an important leadership for his team.

"We were kind of disappointed with the year before, so we got together and worked to get our team back to the way it should have been. We did a good job of it. We won the state championship in the highest class."

Svetina will sign with the Illini Wednesday, and he plans a return trip in April.

"I'll be back for the Spring Game. Depending on how it goes, I'll probably take my physical and arrange my classes for the fall semester."

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