Illini Making Strong Impression On LB Beisel

The Fighting Illini football team hosted more than 40 junior prospects for the annual Spring Game Saturday. Perhaps none were more important than Missouri linebacker Eric Beisel. Making his second visit to campus, he is drawing a lot of attention from the Illini and appreciates it.

Eric Beisel drove through rain to check out the Illinois Spring Game Saturday. He talks about his visit.

"I got here around 11:30 am. I checked out the weight room, and I had a pretty long meeting with Coach (Tim) Beckman. I got to watch some video, and I also got to talk with Dana Howard."

Howard, the former Illini and Butkus Award winner as the top linebacker in the country his senior year, shared his thoughts and experiences with the young linebacker star.

"It was just an honor to be around him. The way he talks, he gave me a lot of advice. He thinks Illinois would be the best place for me. He's actually from the St. Louis area, which is good for me."

The Rockwood High School star lives near Howard, who is from East St. Louis.

"Rockwood is just outside of St. Louis. It normally takes about 2 1/2 hours to get here."

Beisel is not ready to finalize a college decision, but the Illini made it clear what they think of him.

"Illinois has made it clear I'm their number one guy. It feels real good to have that attention here. I'm not ready to make a decision yet, but it was definitely a priority to get here."

Considering the Illini plan to take only one linebacker, that is quite a compliment for the 6'-3", 230 pounder. Both his recruiting coach Tim Salem and linebacker coach Mike Ward have made strong impressions on him.

"I love Coach Salem. He's energetic and lively, just what I want in a coach. I love Mike Ward too; he's great."

Beisel wanted to watch Ward coach, but circumstances prevented it.

"I wanted to be here for a practice, but with my baseball season, it didn't work out. At least I was able to make the Spring Game."

Speaking just prior to the game, he shared traits he hoped to find in the Illini football team.

"The things I'm looking for in the Spring Game are intensity, organization, players picking each other up. And just some hard hits."

While Beisel likes the Illini, they have major competition for his services.

"At this point, every school is a top school for me. Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois, Arkansas and Kansas are all up there."

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