Kendrick Green admits “it was kind of frustrating” to wait so long for a scholarship offer from the Big Ten program just 90 minutes down the road, especially with other Big Ten programs having already jumped on board.
But the wait didn’t take away from the Peoria defensive tackle’s excitement Wednesday when Illinois head coach Lovie Smith called with an offer.
“It’s great because being from the home state in Champaign, it’s not too far from home,” Green said. “I’ve been to quite a few home games there growing up so close, so it’s nice. Close to home is a great factor for me. My coach played at U of I, so I’m happy I finally got the offer.”
Former Illinois head coach Bill Cubit’s staff had upped its interest in Green just prior to his March dismissal to clear way for Smith. The new Illinois staff had hoped to get Green on campus for its Big Man Camp in June to work him out as a defensive lineman, but that’s just when Smith left for training for USA Football, which he played for in the 2016 World Championships this summer in China.
“They had some dilemmas at first with offering me because they didn’t think of me as an offensive lineman,” Green said. “They and just saw my senior tape as a defensive lineman and must’ve liked what they saw. They always stayed in contact with me and let me know what was going on, so you got to appreciate that.”
While Illinois deliberated whether to offer Green, other power-five programs jumped in with scholarship offers, including Syracuse, Minnesota and -- most recently before Illinois -- Iowa.
Green has already taken official visits to Central Florida and Minnesota. He also took an unofficial visit to Iowa.
So does Illinois have some catching up to do?
“I wouldn’t say catching up,” Green said. “I’ve been to Illinois quite a few times so I know what the program and the campus is all about. Illinois is definitely in the mix. I think I’m going to take an official there. I don’t know when, but I’m going to go there and Iowa after the season.”
Iowa has made a big impression on Green.
“I’m getting a lot of love from alumni and fans that go there,” Green said. “It’s awesome. I love everything about Iowa football. The coaching staff, Coach Ferentz, he’s a great coach. He’s real laid back.”
Minnesota also is “definitely in the mix,” Green said.
“I love Minnesota, no doubt,” Green said. “I love Minneapolis and Coach Phelps, the defensive line coach.”
Green, a sound but undersized technician on the offensive line who admits he’s raw as a defensive lineman, said the position coach and “how I feel on campus” is most important to him in picking a program.
While it took longer than Green wanted to come, the Illinois offer is better late than never.
“I think Lovie Smith’s doing a great job rebuilding,” Green said. “He’s going to do a great job continuing to rebuild it. think within the next two years, they’ll be rolling for sure.”