Five to watch at Illini in-state camps

Illinois football hosts three satellite camps this weekend in the Chicagoland area. Here are five prospects to monitor.

Deerfield defender Joshua Maize has intriguing pass-rush potential. The three-star prospect played linebacker last season but projects as a defensive end at the next level. Still, he needs to prove it. He's shown a nice blend of size, range and athleticism and reminds us a lot of former Illini commit Joshua Black, who impressed the Illini last summer to receive and offer before ultimately signing with Syracuse. Maize has the frame to grow into an edge rusher and looked like he had progressed with a hand at the ground at The Opening Regional in Chicago last month. He landed his first power-five offer this week from Indiana, which seemingly could put pressure on the Illini to offer. But the Illini want to see Maize impress with his hand on the ground, and he has that opportunity Saturday in Barrington. If he does receive an Illini offer, his recruitment could end quickly. He told this spring that Illinois is his "dream school."

Long and lean are two words to describe Barrington defensive end Jackson Perkins. Perkins has received offers from several MAC programs and Central Florida. The previous Illinois staff really liked him and gave him his first power-five conference offer, but the new staff wants to see him up close and personal. Perkins is long and athletic appears to have frame to eventually fill out to become a well-rounded Big Ten defensive end but must add strength and power. The Illini are in dire need of defensive linemen, which historically are tough to find in the Midwest, and will watch him closely at the Barrington camp on Saturday morning. Perkins -- the state's No. 4 defensive end -- has a big opportunity this weekend.

Hinsdale Central linebacker Dorion Pollard is well-liked by the Illini staff. He's a tough, physical player with solid athleticism. But he's a bit of a 'tweener. He's built like a safety but plays like a linebacker. He could fit well as a weakside linebacker in Lovie's scheme, likely would excel on special teams and would be a positive culture guy. He recently received offers from Wyoming and Ball State. He will have the chance to impress Illini coaches Friday at the UI satellite camp at Gately Stadium in Chicago. The Illini only plan to take a couple linebackers, so it could end up a waiting game for Pollard.

Warren rising junior Micah Jones is a no-doubter in the Class of 2018, which is why he already holds six power-five offers including an Illini offer. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound receiver is big, physical and athletic. He's already visited the Illinois campus and the new staff. He is a top priority in 2018 and seems to be reciprocating the love so far. But Jones is a likely four-star prospect and will receive attention from some powerhouses shortly. But attending another Illini camp (Barrington) when he doesn't have much left to prove is a positive sign.

Mt. Carmel offensive lineman Verdis Brown recently received an offer from Illinois. Like Jones, the 6-foot-5, 295-pounder is a no-doubter in the Class of 2018 and the Illini were smart to offer first. More offers are on the way, but the Illini staff can further establish their relationship with Brown on Friday at Gately Stadium in Chicago.

Also keep an eye on...

  • 2018 LB Hugh Davis tells he will attend the Chicago Gately camp. Illinois has done a great job there lately and an offer seems imminent for the strong, physical linebacker.
  • 2017 Illini commit Ricky Smalling is expected at Chicago Gately. You got to wonder if he'll bring any friends.
  • 2017 Warren Township receiver Jalin Tolbert is rising on some boards. He's visited many camps with his younger teammate, Micah Jones, and has the chance to impress on Saturday in Barrington.
  • 2017 Wheaton North linebacker Erik Mueller has good size and is a solid performer. He doesn't have any power-five conference offers yet.

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