Nate Hobbs has received mostly lower-level Division I interest from schools like Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky and Ball State. But an unofficial visit to Illinois opened his eyes to the Big Ten.
"It feels good," Hobbs said. "A big ole stadium. I like the atmosphere. It's a pretty humbling experience to come down on a visit, just seeing where I can be and go play at. The sky's the limit."
Illinois recently has upped its interest in the 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback out of Louisville (Ky.) Male. Hobbs certainly fits the Illini's profile: fast, long and physical. Saturday's visit allowed both parties to get a closer look at each other.
"My trainer actually told me about how Illinois was interested in me," Hobbs said. "They contacted my mama and my uncle, and they told me they wanted me to come up on a visit. I was good with it. I got like MAC offers, and I don't really have any Big Ten offers or ACC or anything like that, so I was excited about it, my first Big Ten visit."
Hobbs was able to meet the staff, including head coach Lovie Smith, during the visit.
"They told me that Coach Lovie Smith that he really loves me and he wants to meet me," Hobbs said. "They like my explosiveness, and they just tell me all good things. Everybody here tells me (Lovie) is a really great guy and a guy you want to play for and be around,"
Illinois is recruiting Hobbs as a defensive back, though Hobbs said the staff is leaving open the possibility that he could play receiver too.
"Wherever they need me," Hobbs said. "I could play whatever they need me to play. They said I'm really explosive, really fast, physical. I got good footwork."
Illinois is expected to watch Hobbs in person soon to get an even closer look at his game. What would an Illini offer mean for Hobbs?
"It would mean a lot because they tell me I have all the talent, but I've never gotten offers from anybody that big," Hobbs said. "That would mean a lot to me. They tell me I'd fit right into this offense and the defense because they want more explosive players."