2017 RB Lands Illinois Offer

A speedy rising junior from one of the nation's top football powerhouses was recently offered by the Illini and talks about the possibility of visiting over the summer.

Illinois has had some of its best success on the football recruiting front with the running back group. Landing several big-time playmakers over the last couple of classes, the running back position has become a strength, especially in the younger classes.

With 2015 and 2016 in good hands, including commitments from Dre Brown, KeShawn Vaughn, Reggie Corbin, and 2016 4-star back Kentrail Moran, the Illini have turned their attention to the 2017 class now, and recently issued an offer to a speedy back from one of the most prolific programs in the nation in Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas.

5'11", 185 pound Mike Epstein was the recipient of an offer from Illinois, joining teammate Dominic Thieman, who also was recently offered by the Illini.

"Coach (Ryan) Cubit and Coach (Mike) Phair stopped by the school," Epstein said. "They offered me on the 21st (of May). They offered Dominic Thieman about a week later."

The conversations with the Illinois staff are still pretty young, but Epstein said the staff followed up and saw him in school not long after making contact.

"Coach Cubit followed me on twitter a couple weeks before and then came to the school and we talked a bit."

Players from St. Thomas Aquinas have gone to programs all over the country. For Epstein, the appeal of the Big Ten is a selling point for Illinois.

"Illinois plays Big Ten football," Epstein said. "The older Cubit, the offensive coordinator, wants me to come up and check them out to see the area and the facilities."

Epstein isn't sure on dates yet but does hope to make it to Champaign sometime this summer.

When it comes to scoring and evaluating a school, Epstein is putting a lot of emphasis on his fit in the program.

"I want a great atmosphere, a strong relationship with the coaches, and to see how I fit in the offense."

Epstein, because of his 4.41 speed, is a threat to take the ball the distance every time he takes a handoff. He knows he has that big play ability and seizes the opportunity when he can.

He said, "Every time I touch the rock, I think 'touchdown', but I'm always looking to improve every aspect of my game. I want to get better at my cuts and making people miss in the open field."

In addition to his Illinois offer, Epstein has received offers from Cincinnati, UCF, Temple, FAU, and New Mexico this spring. But with the constant college coach traffic at STA, Epstein will be under the microscope this season and could earn his way to more offers.

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