Lemont wide receiver Flynn Nagel was in street clothes at Lincoln-Way East taking in all the action on Sunday afternoon. One of the top wide receivers in the state of Illinois joined fellow recruits Miles Boykin and Emmanuel Rugamba at Illinois' Satellite Camp at the south suburban high school.
Nagel, who has Illinois high on his list, wanted to get out and see the Illinois coaches in action and spend some time with a few of his peers and high school teammates.
"The coaches wanted us to come out here and see how they coach and how they develop players," he said, "so it was good to see Coach Bellamy work with players and how Coach Cubit coaches. That helps a player see what he's going into if he chooses that school and what sort of drills they do. That helped me see that from the coaches here at U of I."
Nagel is close with both Rugamba and Boykin, so the opportunity to get to visit an Illinois function with two other friends who hold Illinois offers was a great opportunity for him.
"It's awesome," he said. "They're both really good kids. I've worked with Manny the past year and Miles the past two years. It's good to spend time with them, and with them both having offers, it helps talking to them about the school and what they think. I get the feel for not only my feelings about the school but for how they feel about the school as well."
This year's in-state football class seems especially tight with one another. Many of them talk on a regular basis, and those relationships are far from insignificant.
"It's awesome," he said. "The guys, most of them come from Core 6, including Jimmy who is from Core 6 and is committed to Illinois, it definitely says something about it. We all are together. Me, Miles, Emmanuel, Leon, we all talk about Illinois all the time. Jimmy is always pushing about it and wanting to know where we are in the process. It's really good to talk to people about that and see what they think as well."
One long-standing relationship Nagel has is with Illinois signee Nick Allegretti. Allegretti, a long-time family friend of Nagel's, has been advocating Illinois to Nagel for a long time now.
"Nick talks to me about U of I," he said. "There's no real downside about it and everything about it, he loves. I'm a guy who wants to go into engineering or business and he talks about that a lot. There's not really a better school for either of those around here, and he kind of pushes that with me."
Allegretti isn't pressuring Nagel, but he has made it pretty obvious that he wants his friend to join him at Illinois.
"He always jokes with me about when I'm going to commit," he said, laughing. "I have a really good relationship with him, and that helps me having someone like him to talk to about the process. Not only that I have offers from the school, but people who are committed there as well to talk to."
One of the big storylines of Illinois' early recruiting success inside the borders has been the efforts made and relationships built over the last two years finally coming to fruition. As one of those in-state prospects, Nagel values the intentionality of the Illinois coaches in building those relationships.
"I think it is about relationships," he said. "Their big thing in recruiting is recruiting kids in state that are local. Some schools' big thing is going all over the country to get kids, but U of I's big thing is recruiting the kids that are in-state and I think that has a lot to do with their success. They recruit kids that are tight and know each other. That plays a role in why kids are coming to U of I and love the family type feel."
Illinois' commitment to recruiting their home territory has caught the attention of more than just Nagel. Several recruits in Illinois are buzzing about the possibility of several of them uniting at Illinois for their college careers.
"We talk about it all the time. We text. We talk on the phone. We talk maybe once or twice a week to each other about how we're feeling and where we are in the process."
"It's cool to see that other guys are on the same page as you and how some guys are waiting for other guys to make that move."
Nagel has been on the move this spring, getting out on the road for several visits.
"This offseason I hit Illinois, Purdue, Iowa State, Minnesota, and Miami (OH)," he said. "This past week I hit Wake Forest and Duke. Wake Forest offered me on the visit and I hit Duke the next day. Both schools were unbelievable academic schools and preached a lot about character in their programs. Those sorts of things will factor into my decision."
He also has plans to make some moves in his recruitment pretty soon, and he may be approaching a decision sooner rather than later.
"As for where I'm at in the process, I don't plan on doing any camps this summer, and I'm probably just about done with visits," Nagel said.
"I think I have a pretty good feel for where I'm at right now.
"I'm going to sit down and talk in detail with my family this week. I think I'll have a good idea of where I'm going after that and I think I'll be making a decision pretty soon after that."