Miguel Hermosillo was already leaning toward committing to Illinois when he left home this morning, but his visit Saturday and experience on the Illinois campus convinced him that it was time for him to join the 2013 Illinois football class.
"It was awesome," he said. "We got there around 8:30, checked out the campus, met with the coaches, and we went into an academic meeting. I also met with the baseball coach, Coach Snyder. Then I got to go over the weight room and see practice. We met with Coach Beckman and Coach Golesh. They told me what they saw me doing and I decided to commit there and get it over with so I committed to them at the end of the day."
Hermosillo plans to be a two-sport athlete at Illinois, playing both football and baseball. While he's raised a lot of eyebrows as a football player, he got his start in baseball well before he ever stepped foot on the gridiron.
"I grew up playing baseball," Hermosillo said. "I didn't start playing football until 6th grade and I'm still trying to learn. I still have more to grow in with football, but I've been playing baseball my whole life. I've been getting a lot better at football the last couple years."
There's no doubt that the opportunity to play both sports at the next level was a huge draw for Hermosillo. And he sees it as a growing opportunity as he faces a very rigorous schedule in college.
"It's huge for me to play both because I love both," he said. "That's going to help me in the long run because I have to be able to manage two sports. Things like that."
Not only will being a two-sport athlete benefit Hermosillo as a person, the skills he picks up in each sport can translate to the other in a number of ways.
"I think baseball and shagging fly balls really helps with football," he said. "DB and WR drills really helps with quickness and footwork. Being able to pick up skills from both helps a lot."
At Illinois, Tim Beckman has been open to the idea of allowing his athletes to compete in other sports. For example, Ryan Lankford was able to join the track team as a sprinter and long jumper in the spring. Hermosillo will lace up his football cleats first and foremost, but he'll still be able to play the sport he loves and participate as usual.
"Technically I'll be on football scholarship at Illinois, and that will be the main thing," he said. "I'll still be playing baseball as sort of a "walk-on" thing, but I'll still be involved in the team the way anyone else would."
Ottawa Township isn't one of the bigger schools in Illinois, which might explain why Hermosillo didn't receive as much interest, but despite recent inquiries from schools including Arizona State, Hermosillo had in his mind that Illinois is in his future.
"(I looked at) NIU, becaus they were close," he said. "Toledo was another D1 school. I could have waited for other offers, but I felt Illinois was the best fit for me so I went ahead and committed to them."
Hermosillo believes his time off the field is just as valuable as his time on the field.
"I like to spend time around a lot of the players, but I also like to get away from it sometimes and get some time to myself," Hermosillo said. I really work hard to keep a balance between football and between life off the field."
Academics will also play a big role in Hermosillo's future. Illinois fans will see him on Saturdays on the field, but they also may see him again in the booth down the road.
"I'd like to major in communications," he said. "Maybe something specific like broadcasting with a minor in business. I'd like to hopefully work for someone like ESPN, but I also like the business side of that. It's something I've always wanted to go into."
With high school football starting in less than a week, Hermosillo can now turn his attention to his fall season and hopes to take his team to another level this year.
"Last year we did alright but this year I want to make a lot of noise and go out well," Hermosillo said. "We have a good chance to get to the playoffs and make sure I make myself and my team better."