Morris TE/DE Talks Illini Visits

There are a number of tall, rawboned athletes in the state of Illinois this year who play multiple positions. Thus, different schools recruit them for different purposes. Morris junior Danny Friend is an example. He's a tight end and defensive end who may also be recruited as an offensive tackle.

Danny Friend has made two visits to Illinois recently. He attended a Junior Day in March, and he watched the Spring Game.

"My visits were great; I had a great time. The coaches were awesome."

Illini coaches Mike Ward and Luke Butkus made strong impressions on the 6'-5", 235 pounder.

"I've been talking to Coach Ward a lot. And then when I was there, I was talking to Coach Butkus a lot. Just to talk to him was really awesome, getting to meet him. Getting to grow up in the Chicago area, everybody knows the name Butkus. It was awesome to get to meet Dick's nephew. He's really a nice guy."

Speaking after the Junior Day where more than 100 prospects visited, Friend said the Illini were able to pay attention to everyone.

"I think the coaches did a great job of talking to who they wanted to talk to. I got to go up and talk to Coach Beckman for a little bit."

He has also enjoyed seeing the facilities and watching the practices.

"They showed us around the weight room, and the weight room was awesome. It was just enormous. And they took us on the field so we could watch practice. The Gauntlet in practice was crazy. It is probably the greatest drill I've ever seen."

Some schools see him as a tight end. The Illini first talked with him about defensive end. Now, they may be looking at him as an offensive tackle. Friend describes his skills on both sides of the ball.

"As a tight end, I think I have pretty good hands. And I like to think I can block a big defensive tackle on the edge.

"On defense, I'll do my job. Whatever they ask me to do, I'll get it done. Keeping everybody inside and not letting anybody get on the outside, I come off the ball hard and do some good things.

"I'd say I can do a little bit of both run stopping and pass rush. I'm probably not the greatest in either, but I'm pretty solid at both of them."

He has been talking to and visiting with several schools.

"I was at Michigan State for their Junior Day. I also went to a Vanderbilt Junior Day, as well as Indiana and Northwestern. And I got a couple letters from Oregon and Iowa."

What does he want in a school?

"Somewhere I can come in and make an impact, somewhere I can get a good education and somewhere that's got a good air of competition."

He is in no hurry to end his recruitment.

"I'm not sure when I'll make a decision. It's just when the right school comes along, and when I think I know what I want to do."

Morris had a good 2011 season, but Friend hopes for something better this fall.

"This past fall, we ran into JCA in the second round. It was not the way we wanted to end it, but it is what it is. We are hoping to have a very good team this year. We are going to have six or seven guys back on defense and five or six guys on offense. So we'll be back."

In the meantime, Friend has some decisions to make, depending on who offers him a scholarship. Indiana is the biggest of his four offers at present. He must also decide what position he prefers to play in college. He will play somewhere, and the Illini are in a good position if they decide to offer him a scholarship.

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