Austin Schmidt accepted an Illinois scholarship offer after having been on campus only once previously. He returned last Friday to spend more time with Illini coaches and get a better feel for his future home. It confirmed why he chose the Illini.
"It was real nice. I came up (Friday), and I got a nice tour around campus and hung out with the coaches. It was a good time. The campus was real nice, and it was a nice town on Green Street."
Most commitments rest on their laurels and avoid summer evaluation camps. But Schmidt chose to benefit from hands-on coaching available to him the second day of his visit.
"I thought it would be good to come out and work out with all the other guys and all the coaches. See who all's down here today. The camp went pretty well; it's a well-run camp. I feel I did pretty well."
Yes he did. The rangy 6'-5.25" Ohio offensive tackle was clearly the most talented of more than 100 line campers last Saturday. He shows quick feet, excellent mobility and long arms. Illini offensive line coach Luke Butkus gave him some personal attention.
"Yeah, I learned a lot. At our high school, I don't do pass blocking too much because we don't throw the ball a lot. I got a lot of tips on pass blocking."
Listed at around 220 pounds his junior year, the rangy athlete has worked hard to add muscle mass. He is developing nicely and now weighs 264.
"Since the end of the season, I've gained probably 30-40 pounds. It's pretty much all muscle. The coaches told me I probably shouldn't be over 270 for high school. They want me to keep it more lean, and then I can gain good weight in college."
Has he been able to maintain his speed and quickness despite the weight gain?
"Yeah. I do a lot of agility work and stuff, and it's probably gotten better."
Schmidt is looking forward to his senior season at Olentangy High School.
"I think we'll do well. We're moving subconferences, but our goal is to make it to the playoffs and go pretty far in the playoffs. I think we'll be able to achieve that this year."
Distance and game times may limit his fall excursions to campus, but Schmidt hopes to get back to campus during the fall football season.
"I'll probably come to a game or two this fall. I haven't really planned which ones."
Schmidt has a bright future, and the Illini are glad other schools overlooked him. He is firm in his commitment, so their loss is the Illini's gain.