Cartrell Thomas has trimmed his offer list of 15 FBS schools to a final six.
Scout caught up with Thomas early Monday morning following Lancaster (Texas) High School's "Midnight Madness" kickoff practice, which was held at the very same field where Illinois held a June satellite camp.
Thomas included the Fighting Illini in his top six schools, along with Boise State, Texas Tech, Colorado, Utah, and Texas State.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound playmaker said that June camp helped establish Illinois as an option for him.
"They watched my film two weeks before the camp, and the receivers coach (Andrew Hayes-Stoker) was sending me clips saying, ‘You remind me of this guy or this guy,'" Thomas said. "So when he saw me at the camp, I did one route and he told me I could stop because he loved it."
Thomas said he's stayed in touch with Hayes-Stoker since.
"He talks to me every day. I talk to the head coach (Lovie Smith) a lot. He’s from Texas and he used to be an NFL coach for a long time.
"I feel like they have a good coaching staff and they know something about the next level, so that’s why I put them in my top six."
Scout ranks Thomas as the No. 20 receiver in the state of Texas, which is loaded at the wideout position in the 2017 class. Thomas is a productive pass-catcher who shares airspace with Omar Manning, the Lone Star State's top 2017 receiver and the No. 72 overall prospect in the Scout 300.
Nevertheless, Thomas led Lancaster in receptions (54) and receiving yards (943) as a junior, when he helped his team to a 10-4 record and the Texas Class 5A Division II state quarterfinals. Thomas' 11 touchdown catches were second on his team, trailing only Manning (12).
Thomas told Scout that he "will definitely visit" Boise State and Texas Tech, but he hopes to also find weekends to visit Illinois, Colorado, Utah, and Texas State.
Stick with Scout as we continue to monitor any developments in Thomas' recruitment.
Below is Scout's evaluation of Thomas:
Cartrell Thomas is an FBS-caliber receiver prospect who's at home in the slot but can also move around the formation and line up just about anywhere at the high school level. Impressive leaper who high-points the ball to win red-zone matchups. Jumping ability helps to compensate for lack of height/size.
A competitor, unafraid to test the middle of the field. He can improve his top-end speed, but that said, Thomas plays faster than he tests at camps/combines and does not show any lack of speed playing against very good competition in Texas' Class 5A in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Stretches the field vertically, especially when lined up outside. Gains a lot of yardage after the catch. Potential to wind up as a Power Five conference signee. -- Gabe Brooks
Below are junior-season highlights of Thomas:
Below are 7-on-7 clips of Thomas from earlier this summer:
Below are clips of Thomas from March at The Opening Dallas: