CHAMPAIGN - Calvin Tyler had never taken a college campus visit before. Based on his reaction, Illinois set a high bar for the Silsbee (Texas) running back.
"I loved it," Tyler said following a mid-week unofficial visit to Illinois. "I loved everything about it. I loved the coaching staff too."
Illinois has turned up its interest for the three-star Texas tailback. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound shifty, speedy back arrived on Wednesday. He left campus Thursday afternoon before a few dozen recruits arrived for an Illinois barbecue, so Tyler got a lot of individual attention.
"They were saying how they liked my game," Tyler said. "They said I'm not no Adrian Peterson back because I'm not tall, but they like that I'm explosive. They said it's all about building relationships. Like say I do come to their college, Coach (Garrick) McGee and Coach Lovie Smith have known each other for a while. Coach Lovie hired Coach McGee when he got the job, so he said it was all about building relationships after football and stuff like that."
Tyler also got a lot of one-on-one time with Illini coach Lovie Smith, whom he'd never met before.
http://www.scout.com/college/illinois/story/1689501-illini-football-recr... "That's like a calm coach," Tyler said. "For a head coach, he's a calm, laid-back coach. And that's how I know they're really interested in me. Usually you don't get a lot of time with the head coaches. But he talked to me for like 45 minutes. If he spends that much time with you? Yeah, that's how you know he's really interested because he didn't have to do that."
What did they discuss for 45 minutes?
"We talked about a lot of things and his relationships," Tyler said. "He talked about the relationships after football. He brought up Devin Hester and how Devin Hester still calls him, 'Pops.' And we're both from East Texas. Big Sandy. That's like 30 minutes away from me."
The Illini haven't offered yet. But Tyler, who holds a dozen offers including Cal and Army, thinks that could change soon.
"Not yet, but I feel like it should be either later today, tomorrow or next week," Tyler said. "They love me. They love me, man. That whole coaching staff, they all welcomed me with open arms."
Tyler said he plans to visit Cal, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State soon. But what would an Illinois offer mean for him?
"It'd be a blessing," Tyler said. "Once they offer, it'll be crazy for a lot of other schools, because I love Illinois, man.
"If I had a top-five, they'd be like at the top. They'd be at the top."