Khairi Bailey plays defensive end, a position that will be a high priority Illinois recruiting target for 2013. He was among the visitors for the Illini Junior Day January 22nd. He wasn't able to arrive in time for the whole program, but he enjoyed himself nonetheless.
"I got there around 12:15. Some guys got a tour of the facilities, but I didn't make that. We did get to see the press box. Coach Tim Beckman showed it to us; it was real nice up there. We drove around campus for about 30 minutes after the (basketball) game and got something to eat. It was a nice school."
What kind of impression did the Illini make on the Chicago Morgan Park athlete?
"It was nice. They have a good coaching staff, for them being new coaches in the Big Ten. I like the atmosphere. I talked to Coach Beckman, he's real cool. I thought Coach (Luke) Butkus was a real nice dude too. All the coaching staff was real nice."
Bailey's recruiting coach is Steve Clinkscale, and his position coach is Keith Gilmore. Unfortunately, neither was available to visit with him while he was on campus.
"Coach Clinkscale wasn't in town this week, so I'll see him in April. I will be back in April. He's a really cool guy. Coach Gilmore had to drop a recruit off from his official visit, so he wasn't there. I had met Coach Gilmore last summer at an Illinois camp. He's real cool too. We had a really good connection with each other."
Perhaps the highlight of the trip was attending the Illinois basketball game with Wisconsin. Stationed in back of the Orange Krush, he had occasional problems seeing the court, but he adapted.
"It was real fun being with the Orange Krush and meeting new people. Yeah I had to stand up a little bit, but it was fun though. I enjoyed myself."
Bailey's high school team struggled on the field this past season, but he's hopeful for 2012.
"We ended 4-6. We made it to the state playoffs but lost to Lemont in the first round. We didn't qualify for the city playoffs because we lost to Whitney Young.
"We had a young team this year, so we're looking to rebuild. We've got a lot of sophomores, so the older guys on the team will have to be leaders."
How did the 6'-3", 240 pounder do individually?
"I had nine sacks and like 30 tackles."
Bailey described his strengths as a football player.
"I'm smart. I study the game a lot, and my opponent. I try to take advantage of their weaknesses. It's my knowledge of the game."
He would like to improve some things as well.
"I can always get faster and stronger. I'd like to improve my speed rush, bull rush. I use my hands pretty good."
Bailey is in the process of formulating plans for spring visits.
"I've got to go to Wisconsin February 18 and Minnesota February 25th for Junior Days. I plan on going to the Illinois spring scrimmage, so I'll be back down there in the spring."
What is he looking for in a college?
"I want to have a good connection with my coaches because I'm going to be with them for the next four years. I want to be around good people. I want to have fun in college and win a Big Ten championship."
Whatever school Bailey ultimately attends, he should be popular with his teammates given his choice of majors.
"I'd like to major in Culinary Arts. I like cooking."