Illinois has been home to some very accurate and successful kickers in the past such as Jason Reda and Derek Dimke. Lately, the kicking position has been somewhat volatile with Taylor Zalewski only recently securing the starting duties over David Reisner.
However, moving forward, the Illini will be looking for the next Reda or Dimke, and they hope that 2016 Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas kicker James McCourt could be that guy.
McCourt made the trip up along with teammate and 2016 WR commitment Dominic Thieman on Saturday for the Wisconsin game and had raving reviews of his time in Champaign.
"The game was great," McCourt said. "I was really impressed with the atmosphere of the students and the fans. Coach Cubit definitely has this program going in the right direction."
One other former Illini special teamer that McCourt has spoken with lately is fellow St. Thomas Aquinas alum and former Illinois punter Justin DuVernois, who was on campus this weekend for the homecoming game as well.
"Justin was at the game, but I didn't get to talk to him while I was there," McCourt said. "I'm really good friends with his younger brother, but Justin and I have been talking a lot recently ever since I received the offer (from Illinois). He's been telling me how much he enjoyed his time there and how I would love my time there, too."
McCourt is looking for a school where, if football wasn't in the picture, he would still be successful. As a result, academics will factor largely into his decision.
"'Academics first' has always been instilled in me ever since I can remember," McCourt said. "So academics will be a huge determining factor in my decision. I'm looking into majoring in business, but I'm not entirely sure yet. Also, the school itself will be important. Can I see myself there without football?"
The Illini have positioned themselves well in McCourt's recruitment and have set the bar high for everyone else. But is he on the verge of making a pledge?
"Illinois is definitely my leader, and I will be making my decision soon," McCourt said. "I'm not entirely sure yet (when I'll decide). I'm also hearing from Pittsburgh, Florida, Miami, and Syracuse. None of them have offered, but are close."
When asked if offers from those four schools would change his decision timeframe, McCourt said, "I'm not sure. I just need to weigh all my options."