Junior college cornerback Ahmari Hayes has committed to the Illini, he tweeted on Tuesday evening.
Hayes, the 16th Class of 2016 commit for Illinois, will immediately compete for playing time at Illinois, which lost starting cornerbacks V'Angelo Bentley and Eaton Spence to graduation.
On Tuesday night, they landed a prospect who fits that description in College of San Mateo (CA) cornerback Ahmari Hayes.
Hayes, who also held offers from Texas State and South Alabama, visited Champaign this past weekend, and pulled the trigger on his commitment not long after.
Ulitimately, though, at Illinois, Hayes felt that the total package of athletics and academics would be best for his long-term future.
"In the long run I know that a degree from Illinois will help me once my football days are over," Hayes said.
On his official visit to Champaign this past weekend, Hayes said he got a good feel for the program and felt very welcome.
"The thing I liked the most was the team chemistry that I could tell was there," he said. "That is the most important thing to me on a team in my opinion. Honestly, how big the weight room was surprised me."
Hayes is a big-bodied corner who is comfortable on the perimeter in man-to-man coverage. He's physical at the line of scrimmage and uses his size to his advantage downfield to gain position on the receiver and make plays.
He sheds blocks fairly well at the line of scrimmage, but isn't necessarily a "downhill" type of player. He does show very solid ability to diagnose and react to plays quickly, allowing him to often get in position to have an impact.
He'll need to improve his physicality even more to combat the bigger running backs and receivers he will see in the Big Ten, but Hayes is a guy who could and will likely see the field early and often once he arrives in Champaign.