CHAMPAIGN - Illinois football currently has multiple scholarships open. Of course, the usually tight-lipped Lovie Smith wouldn't say how many.
The Illini signed 23 of an available 25 scholarship spots in the Class of 2016 -- junior college cornerback Ahmari Hayes and quarterback Eli Peters were back-counted to the Class of 2015. Auburn fifth-year transfer Gimel President, a defensive end, arrives this summer to fill one of those spots. If any of the 2016 signees don't make it through admissions, more scholarships may open.
Regardless of how many scholarships are available, Smith says all will be filled.
"Eventually," Smith said Monday. "We have a plan in mind. Most of the time you have a plan, you can't talk about it (publicly) an awful lot. Once the season starts, we won't have any open spots."
The Illini can fill the spots by adding transfers, graduate transfers, junior college transfers or remaining high school prospects.
One apparent option is former Michigan offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman.
The Peoria (Ill.) Manual product visited the Illini on Saturday. The 6-foot-7, 310-pound offensive lineman will graduate from Michigan this spring -- allowing him to play immediately due to the graduate transfer rule -- and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
"They are very behind because they got hired so late," Tuley-Tillman told IlliniInquirer.com, "But Coach Lovie wants me to come back out on a off day and spend some time and chat it up."
One topic of conversation likely will include the reason Tuley-Tillman, a former four-star recruit, was dismissed by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh last fall.
He plead guilty in February to filming a sexual act of a woman without her consent (the woman said the sex was consensual). According to a report from M-Live Media Group, he was sentenced last month to two years probation under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which allows youths to keep a crime off their record if they complete their probation without incident.
Tuley-Tillman gave a verbal commitment to Washington State after a January visit but has kept his options open. He's already visited Ole Miss, Arkansas, Purdue and Houston and also has interest from Hawaii.
The Illini now are in the mix too. Tuley-Tillman said he plans to return to the Illini campus and visit with the new Illini staff in the next week or two. His trip last weekend was positive.
"It was nice," Tuley-Tillman said. "I have two other guys from Peoria on the team (Kendrick Foster and Brandon Roberts), and they both had really good days so it was nice to see that. Everything feels and looks so different at Illinois, kind of like when Harbaugh came to Michigan last year. Lovie is obviously a star. The very first football I ever watched as a kid was a Bears-Vikings game when he was the head coach."
Illinois has playing time to sell. Tuley-Tillman, who played just one game at Michigan, could compete at the two open guard spots -- currently a competition among redshirt freshman Gabe Megginson, redshirt sophomore Nick Allegretti and senior Connor Brennan.
With the spring session soon coming to a close, Tuley-Tillman hopes to decide soon.
"The sooner the better so I can find housing for the fall, but it will be early June and then I'll report," Tuley-Tillman said. "I'm at the point where nothing else matters but being able to come in and help a team win right away and get some good stuff on film. The colors don't really matter."