Unlike most Illinois observers, Peoria offensive lineman Kendrick Green was a bit nervous when the Illini announced Lovie Smith as its next head coach.
"I thought my chances to go there were out the window," Green said. "Obviously, I didn't know Lovie Smith and I was pretty well-in with the old staff."
But this week, Green's nerves were calmed a bit as Illinois offensive line coach Luke Butkus reached out to express interest.
Green holds offers from Illinois State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Bowling Green, South Dakota State, Wyoming, Northern Illinois and Buffalo. Power-five opponents are expressing interest as well, including Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Rutgers, Iowa State, Syracuse and UCF.
Green is hoping to soon land a Big Ten offer, especially one from the in-state school.
"That'd be big," Green said. "They'd be a top consideration. Lovie Smith there too, that makes it ten times better."
Green, who wrestles and plays baseball at Peoria High, didn't grow up rooting for Smith's Bears -- he was a big LaDainian Tomlinson fan, so he tends to root for the San Diego Chargers -- but he did grow up monitoring the Illini.
"It's not too far from home," Green said. "I'm kind of familiar with Champaign a little bit. I grew up watching a lot of the basketball games. It'd definitely be a great option for me."
Green is sharing the recruiting process with teammate Jamir Whitelow, a three-star receiver who held an offer from the previous Illinois staff.
"That's my boy; we're best friends," Green said. "We played basketball together when we were younger. Some of our other friends don't really understand. It's kind of stressful, you know? We talk about who's recruiting us and stuff all the time."
And yes, Whitelow and Green -- who helped lead Peoria to the Class 5A quarterfinals -- wouldn't mind playing together in college.
"We talk about that too," Green said. "If it happens, it happens. If Jamir goes to U of I and I get an offer from U of I, that would definitely be another factor. It would help."