LB Marc Mondesir on commitment to Illini: 'Nowhere else I want to go'

St. Rita LB ends recruitment quickly, commits to Illini following Sunday showcase camp

Marc Mondesir's recruitment was fast and furious.

The Chicago (Ill.) St. Rita linebacker held no offers before his June 3 appearance at the Illinois at the Illinois Gately Stadium satellite camp, where he broke out of near anonymity with a standout performance.

In the last three days, he received five scholarship offers. But Mondesir quickly decided he'd already had enough with the recruiting process.

Mondesir committed to Illinois on Sunday, seconds after receiving a scholarship offer from the Illini staff.

"I've always wanted to go to the school, so I just decided, 'Why not commit?'" Mondesir said. "There's nowhere else I want to go."

Mondesir told before Sunday's camp that if Illinois offered, he already had the idea in his head that he'd commit.

"I had a feeling that an offer might come up, so I discussed it with my family," Mondesir said. "We all decided it's the best move."

Mondesir chose the Illini over offers from Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State and Wyoming. All of his offers came during the last week.

"I wasn't even on the radar at all before this week," Mondesir said. "I was sort of hidden.

"It's been crazy. Since the first Illinois camp last week at Gately ... it's just been crazy. I didn't expect all this and all these offers to come, but I'm very blessed and excited that it happened, and I'm proud of it."

So why such an uptick in the recruitment of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker? Well, Mondesir played defensive end for St. Rita last year and was too small to play that position. But Mondesir ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at each of the two Illinois camps he attended this month and performed well in linebacker drills.

News spread quickly about his blend of speed, size and athleticism, and the Illini made sure they didn't wait too long to corral a prospect they wanted.

"I always knew I could be (a Big Ten player)," Mondesir said. "I'm not trying to be cocky or arrogant or something, but I always knew I had the talents to be able to be a Big Ten linebacker. I just had to show up. That's what these camps are for, and I'm just happy that Coach Lovie and the rest of the staff noticed that in me."

Mondesir is the sixth commitment in the Illini's Class of 2017 and the fifth in-state prospect to commit to Lovie Smith during the past two months.

"It didn't really hit me until the car ride back from the stadium," Mondesir said. "I was just like, 'Woah!' It's a weekend of recruiting, and now it's all over. But I couldn't have made a better decision. I've loved U of I since I was a little kid. I've been keeping up with the team. I love the school. My brother's heading down there this fall. There couldn't have been a better place and a school to fit."

Werner's Take

Due to his low profile until this moth, Mondesir's commitment probably won't generate as much buzz as some of the previous Lovie Smith in-state commitments. But he is a great "fit" for this staff.

Smith's staff knew little of Mondesir until the June 3 satellite camp. But they identified Mondesir, pursued him quickly and got their guy.

While he only had two other lower-level offers, Mondesir is a legit power-five athlete. He has length, speed and fluid hips to get in and out of breaks.

Mondesir played defensive line last season but will likely play the play-making weakside linebacker spot for Smith but could bulk up enough to be the strongside linebacker, a position that blitzes more often. He has great sideline-to-sideline speed and has room to add strength to bulk up to around 230 pounds. He breaks quickly on passes and shows physicality on film.

Mondesir also should contribute on special teams very early in his career.

Until proven otherwise, Smith definitely deserves the benefit of the doubt in his evaluations. Based on what we've seen from Mondesir during two camps, Illinois made a good evaluation of Mondesir and acted quickly on it.

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