Illinois has recruited Florida heavily during Bill Cubit's tenure at Illinois, and one school in particular where the Illini have had some success is Delray Beach (FL) American Heritage, the alma mater of 2015 signees Desmond Cain and Trenard Davis.
The Illini continued to draw talent from the Florida powerhouse with the commitment of 2016 RB Devin Singletary on Tuesday.
Scout Florida recruiting analyst Corey Bender describes Singletary as "a shifty tailback who operates with impressive balance and patience for an 8-2 stallions team. He possesses an impressive offer sheet consisting of Power Five opportunities from Florida State, Miami, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Illinois."
Ultimately, the Illinois offer ended up being the one that sold Singletary on his future. He will join former high school teammates Cain and Davis in Champaign. And if the injuries to the Illinois running back corps this year proved anything, it showed that "too many talented backs on the roster" is never a bad thing.
Singletary cited his relationship with the Cubits as well as running backs coach Nathan Scheelhaase as big reasons he decided to commit at this time.
“Talking to coach Cubit and Coach Scheelhaase made me feel comfortable,” he said. “They’re cool dudes. I know a couple players up there and liked what I heard. I talked to my family and decided I wanted to attend Illinois.”
Though Singletary hasn’t actually be on the U of I campus yet, he will be in just a couple short weeks. His official visit is lined up for mid-December, and he should see a couple faimiliar faces when he arrives.
I’m planning on taking my official December 12th. I know Trenard Davis (2015 signee currently at Parkland) and Desmond Cain. I know James Crawford, too,” he said. “They told me about how great the campus is and how the classes are. I knew a lot of it from talking to the coaches, but they firmed that up too.”
He continued, “I just want to come up and take it all in and see about the feeling and the atmosphere. I just want to see how classes are and everything like that. I think Des is going to be hosting me.”
Singletary noted that he liked the amount of touches freshman Ke’Shawn Vaughn got this year, and said that he feels like he could be a dual-threat out of the backfield in both the running and passing game.
“I like that they feed the running back a lot and that they play young players, too,” he said. “That was a big part in my decision. I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the receiving game after catching a lot of passes out of the backfield this year.”
Though he didn’t have anyone specifically in mind, Singletary did state that he plans to go from recruit to recruiter in the near future.
“I don’t know any guys right now that I want to come with me, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be working on it,” he said.
Singletary had a solid list of offers throughout the recruiting process, but at the end, his list came down to Illinois and a trio of east-coast schools.
“I was considering Wake Forest, UConn, and FAU at the end,” he said. “I didn’t have any visits set up to see those schools, though.”
Singletary has played in a very physical and talented conference while at American Heritage. He’s also played behind some talented backs like former Notre Dame RB Greg Bryant (now at UAB). Still, he knows that he will have to improve if he’s headed to the Big Ten, and Singletary has gleaned as much knowledge as possible from those who came before him at AHHS.
“Right now I just want to get bigger and become more of a student of the game,” he said. “(Guys like Bryant) taught me about more than just being a good running back. They taught me about reading defenses, knowing about my linemen, and just being a smart player and stuff like that.”
Singletary is the second RB commitment in the 2016 class for the Illini and is the 18th overall known commitment in the class. He joins fellow Sunshine State natives WR Dominic Thieman, OL/DL Tre Johnson, K James McCourt, and QB Eli Peters as orange and blue pledges.