Cam Thomas had been waiting for it, but the Marian Catholic (Ill.) quarterback wasn't quite prepared for it.
"I had just got out of a football meeting, and Coach (Lovie) Smith asked me if it was OK for him to call," Thomas said. "I stepped outside and coach told me that I had received a scholarship to the University of Illinois. I was relieved and so happy. I was at a loss for words. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness."
The Illini offer -- Thomas's first scholarship offer -- had been in the works for weeks. The Illini are looking for dual-threat quarterbacks and Thomas -- who finished first among quarterbacks in Nike's athletic testing at The Opening in Chicago last Saturday -- quickly caught their eye.
Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee traveled to Chicago Heights to watch Thomas throw and came away highly impressed. The Illini were trying to get Thomas on campus at the end of the month -- likely to present the offer -- but increased interest from Indiana, Iowa and other programs seemed to convince the Illini to pull the trigger earlier.
Now, the Illini are trying to close the deal.
"(Lovie) said that he needed me to really get on board and to try hard to get others on board as well," Thomas said. "He wants me to show the change that's happening at Illinois. This offer shows me that hard work really pays off and that staying faithful pays off in the long run. This offer has taken the pressure off my senior season. And the fact that it's from Illinois just makes it better. I've grown up watching Big Ten football and Illini football."
Thomas said he will talk to his parents about the offer. It probably won't be his last. Iowa and Indiana are scheduled to visit him soon to watch him throw.
Meanwhile, Illinois hopes to get Thomas back on campus shortly. Thomas has visited Champaign multiple times this spring already.
"I'm just really honored that Illini coaching staff and Coach Smith believe in me as a quarterback," Thomas said.