A little more than 20 days away from his 18th birthday, the freshman from Glenwood, Ill. has impressed coach Tim Beckman thus far in fall camp.
"I've been very impressed with the way he was coached in high school because he's got great football smarts and the way he competes," Beckman said.
Beckman is now directly responsible for the corners due to the lack of depth and amount of youth at the spot. That's given him complete access to guys like Dunlap, Dillan Cazley and Darius Mosely.
While sophomores V'Angelo Bentley and Eaton Spence have a good hold on the starting jobs, Beckman needs that freshman trio to be ready, either for play in sub-packages or in the event of injury.
Cazley and Mosely enrolled in January, so that gave them a leg up. Mosely is considered to hold the best shot for playing time this season. Still, it's Dunlap, who arrived in June for player-led summer workouts, that's sent Beckman into rave-mode.
"You can tell that he has been coached well already and you can tell what type of program he comes from because of his work ethic," Beckman said.
At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Dunlap wasn't among the highest rated recruits in the Illini's 2013 signing class. A two-star prospect, Dunlap had 10 interceptions in his high school career at Crete-Monee, a run that ended with a state championship his senior season.
Beckman acknowledged Dunlap wasn't highly rated coming into Illinois, "but neither was A.J. Hawk and Troy Smith when we had them (at Ohio State)," he said. "Again, it's about the fit that you need in your program. If they fit they're going to be successful. I think Jaylen is definitely that guy that we liked and we thought that he'd be a great addition."