Eric Beisel of Fenton, Missouri, is a throwback linebacker with a mean streak. At 6'-4", 235 pounds, he's not a guy you want to meet head-on if you have the ball. Beisel has been busy on the recruiting trail lately, and he made a stop at Illinois Sunday evening for Junior Day.
"It was pretty cool. I like how they talked about family here. I feel like it would be a comfortable transition if I did choose Illinois."
One of the highlights of Beisel's visit was meeting new head football coach Tim Beckman. He got a chance to see what he would look like in an Illinois jersey featuring his high school number, which is the same as another workout warrior and graduating Illinois senior linebacker Ian Thomas.
"It was probably going into the head coach's office and trying on the jersey. I'm pretty religious about the number 38, so that was cool."
Though only on the job a couple of months, assistant coach Tim Salem has been recruiting Beisel diligently so far. Salem has been up front about making Beisel a priority, and he's hopeful Beisel will join the Illini in the future.
"He was pretty cool. He was really enthusiastic about winning and really wants me here. He says I'm one of their top linebackers.
"Coach Salem is a cool guy. I like him. We talk a lot on Facebook, and he's been recruiting me hard the last month or so."
So far, Beisel is getting attention from a number of top schools. When looking at his combination of size, speed and physicality, it's no surprise he's hearing from some of the best. Beisel already holds three early offers.
"I'm hearing a lot from Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois, Arkansas, Notre Dame. I've heard from Ohio State and Alabama a bit. So far, I have offers from Missouri, Nebraska, and Illinois."
Having now visited Illinois, Beisel has tripped to all of the schools that have offered him. In the coming weeks, he'll be hitting the road again to see two more schools that could potentially offer soon.
"I visited Missouri and Nebraska on junior days, and I'm going to Arkansas next weekend and Notre Dame the weekend after that."
Beisel plays from sideline to sideline. When he comes downhill, he makes plays with force but stays disciplined. He reads the field well, too.
"I'm pretty fast for a linebacker. I love to hit people. I'm pretty agile. I understand my position, and I know how to read my guards and the running back. I'm the first guy to the ball. I'd say I'm an old school linebacker."
Beisel developed his game with some influence from two of the game's greats. When you turn on his film, you can see a lot of similarities to both in terms of his aggressive play and athletic ability.
"Ray Lewis is definitely a big influence on my style. Definitely Brian Urlacher too."
Beisel and his Rockwood Summit team put together a solid season, but he expects better things next year and will do what it takes to improve himself and his team.
"We ended up having a pretty good season. We won conference, but we lost in the first round of the playoffs. Next year we return a lot of good defensive players. Our defense will be solid. Our offense will get there. We're going to work hard this summer to get there."