Two days after Illinois dismissed head football coach Tim Beckman, the remaining Illini staff received a commitment from Columbia (Mo.) Hickman defensive end Brandon Jones.
"I talked it over with my family yesterday and we just decided that today was the day that I was going to commit to Illinois," said Jones, who committed to the Illini over an offer from Southeast Missouri State. "So I called Coach Ryan Cubit up and just said I wanted to commit. It just feels like the home away from home.
Jones, who also had interest from Purdue, Indiana and Kansas State, is the 15th commitment in the Illini Class of 2016. Jones visited the Illini scrimmage earlier this month.
"I loved it, especially (Illini defensive line coach Mike) Phair and the way he taught the defensive line," Jones said. "It just feels like a big family environment. The coaches they have and the relationships they have with the players and the relationships they're trying to build with the incoming class is just amazing. They just know how to make you feel like a family."
The timing, of course, is interesting given that Beckman was dismissed seven days prior to the Illini's first game of the season. Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said preliminary findings of an independent review found that Beckman efforted to prevent players from reporting injuries and forced players to play hurt. Beckman is threatening legal action, calling the allegations "utterly false" in a statement.
Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has taken over as interim head coach, and the Illini staff continues to recruit. Quarterbacks coach Ryan Cubit led the charge with Jones.
"(Beckman's dismissal) didn't really have a big effect at all because Illinois was at the top of my list no matter especially with Bill Cubit now as the head coach," Jones said. "That just pushed it over the edge, and that just made me decide that I need to do it."
Jones said he felt comfortable committing to the Illini because he feels like Bill Cubit will remain the top guy long-term
"I feel like Coach Cubit is there to stay," Jones said.