St. Louis Running Back Enjoys Illini Visit

After only two months on the job, the Fighting Illini football coaching staff hosted one of the largest groups of juniors in recent years in Champaign as Illinois basketball faced Iowa at the Assembly Hall. One of the headliners of that group was star St. Louis running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Ezekiel Elliott of John Burroughs High in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, is one of the best running backs in the Midwest for the class of 2013. He checked out Illinois Sunday and really enjoyed his visit.

"It's a nice team and a nice family. I got to meet not only the coaches, but the families of the coaches. I got to meet a lot of the players and ask them questions, too."

One Illini player who almost every recruit seems to meet is quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. A Missouri native from the other end of the state, Scheelhaase, along with Elliott's recruiting coach Tim Salem, made Elliott feel more than welcome.

"I talked to the starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. It's great getting to meet with Coach Salem too. It's a great staff. It seems like they're writing me letters almost every day. I've been getting a lot of mail from Illinois, and I feel really welcome here."

In addition to his Illinois visit, Elliott has been busy out on the road seeing his home-state school and some other Big Ten schools.

"I've taken visits to Mizzou, Ohio State, Nebraska, a lot of Big Ten schools and a couple SEC schools. Right now I'm just trying to take a lot of visits and not choose a school too early."

Illinois will have one advantage with Elliott when he weighs his college options. Family is important to him, and he'd like to have them at his games.

"Distance is definitely a big thing. I'd like to be close enough so that my parents and family could come and see me play. Just a place I can feel comfortable."

Also, Elliott got to meet new Illinois head man Tim Beckman. Beckman's energy and drive to win stood out to the running back.

"Coach Beckman is a fun guy. He's really outgoing, but he finds a way to get business done."

With a spread offense being installed, Illinois has begun recruiting personnel to fit into the system. Elliott's high school also runs a spread, so he already possesses a number of the necessary skills to succeed in the offense.

"We run a lot of spread at my high school, so I'm used to zone reads and different blocking techniques. I like to use the whole field, use my vision and take what the defense gives me."

Elliott has been hearing from a number of major schools already. The attention has been a whirlwind so far, but Elliott is enjoying it.

"The recruiting process gets stressful now and then, but it's great. I love being able to go all these places and feel wanted by all these people."

Elliott had great things to say about his time spent on the UI campus.

"This is my first time at Illinois. First I met with Coach Beckman, then with some of the players and the families of the staffs. I spent time in the position meeting with the running backs and Coach Salem.

"It's nice for me having my recruiting coach be the running back coach since I can form that bond with he and the guys."

Elliott liked the campus and facilities as well.

"Everything's nice. The Greek life is great, the facilities are awesome. It's the biggest weight room in the nation which is great."

Though he's seen a number of the schools recruiting him heavily, Elliott isn't rushing his recruitment.

"It's going to be a big decision. I don't want to rule anyone out. I just want to take as many visits as I can."

With his Illinois visit in the books, he's now heading to see schools in the SEC, Big Ten, and another school that recently offered.

"I'm going to Arkansas next weekend. Then I'm heading to Iowa, Northwestern, and Notre Dame after that. I just recently got a Notre Dame offer, so I want to check them out."

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