Clifton Garrett is excited to be noticed by college recruiters at such an early age.
"It's been going great so far. I didn't think it was gonna come this early. Things are starting to pick up.
"Illinois was my first offer. I was excited when the coach called my coach and asked me to give him a call. I was in the middle of a workout. So I called him, and that's when he told me they were gonna offer me."
His Illini recruiting coach would also be his linebacker coach should he choose the home state school.
"I talk to Coach Mike Ward. He's a great guy, I like him a lot. I'm hoping to meet him sometime this week."
Garrett showed off his talent at the Nike Football Training Camp last Sunday. He describes his game, his assets and things he wants to improve.
"My speed, my size, my closing speed and my ability to tackle. I want to work on my footwork a little bit more to get my lateral speed better. So when I see a ball, I can just go get it."
The 6'-2", 215 pounder is getting two early looks at the Illini.
"This is my first school visit this summer. I'll be coming back next week for the Illinois Friday Night Lights camp."
Garrett's junior year sold Illini recruiters on his potential.
"I had a great season. I had 78 and 1/2 tackles, three tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and one interception."
His Plainfield South squad didn't fare quite as well, but he's excited about the future.
"We finished 5-5 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Lincoln-Way East. It was a pretty good game. Our defense played great, but our offense didn't help us out too much. We have a lot of young talent, so the future is gonna be great."
Garrett is formulating ideas on what he wants in a college.
"Academics first and foremost. I plan to go into Criminology. After that, the coaching staff and how I'm gonna fit in on the defense."
The Illini will need to compete against some powerful opponents for Garrett's services.
"Notre Dame just offered me recently. I'll be going there for my first unofficial visit. I'll be at a Wisconsin camp after Illinois, then Ohio State. I'd like to hear from Oregon and maybe some SEC schools."
He liked Ohio State growing up, but the Illini have made a strong early impression and will continue to be an option for the intelligent, personable athlete.