Illinois recruiting has been an uphill battle the last couple of months. Between a rash of decommits and the subsequent commitments of players who quickly came onto Illinois' radar, the 2016 class assumed a completely different look than it had just a couple months ago.
However, one of those new names on the radar is a big offensive lineman from the Northeast who would be a quality late addition to the Illini's 2016 class.
Eddy Fish, a 6'-6" 308 pound offensive tackle from Groton (MA) Lawrence Academy, has only been playing organized football for two years, but the long-time basketball player is quickly taking to his new sport and ascending the ranks rapidly.
As a matter of fact, Fish recently participated in the Semper Fidelis All-American Game in California. For a guy who is still fairly new to football, that is an encouraging sign of the tackle's potential.
"I've only played (football) for two years," Fish said, "so I really need more reps. I've been a basketball player my whole life. But it was a great game with lots of good players."
Fish, who is currently a Boston College commit, has been in contact with Illinois coaches in recent weeks, most specifically offensive line coach A.J. Ricker.
"Illinois offered me three weeks ago, and every day since that I've been in contact with Coach Ricker and Coach Cubit," Fish said. "Coach Ricker is a great man and a leader. He's very honest and trustworthy and he understands my game very well."
Just days before signing day, Fish took an official visit to Champaign to see what the Illini were all about for himself, and he came away raving about the visit.
"The visit was amazing!" he said. "I think the honesty and overall excitement from the coaches was the thing that stood out most for me. They made it crystal clear what they wanted for me and how much they want me to be a part of what they envision."
Fish must choose by Wednesday whether to stick with his current commitment to Boston College or pursue a college career at Illinois. He shared his plans for a final resolution.
"Essentially, I'm going to talk to my coach and a few others in my inner circle and make a final choice," he said. "Once everyone is on the same page and we feel the time is right, (I'll announce my decision). I anticipate doing that sometime soon."
Fish said he will be evaluating the two schools based on a few criteria, but admitted that Illinois qualifies in all of those areas.
"I'm looking at academics, football, and the overall feel of the school," he said. "All three are excellent at Illinois."
Fish committed to Boston College back in mid-December, and he lives very close to the campus, but he said that he is prepared to handle being away from home if he chooses Illinois.
"I go to boarding school now, so I'm used to living away from home," Fish said. "I live 15 minutes from Boston College, so that part is appealing, being able to come home and seeing my parents and all that. But I'm sure I could make it work."
Despite BC's proximity, Illinois' coaches did a good job of not only making him feel at home this weekend, but also making their plans for his future at Illinois very clear.
"I was hosted by Matt Long and Gabe Megginson," he said. "But all the guys were welcoming and took great care of me."
He continued, "The coaches project me at tackle. They envision me as coming in and making an impact soon. We all want to redshirt, but if something happens, they said to be prepared. I'd most likely start off as a backup right tackle then take reps with the twos and travel while hopefully keeping my redshirt."
But does Illinois really have a shot with the current BC commit?
"I'm very close to flipping."