When you're a four-star recruit, you're a wanted young man. After a strong junior campaign, Lincoln-Way East (Ill.) defensive end Devin O'Rourke is quickly learning that recruiting is about to turn up a notch.
"Recruiting is interesting. It's starting to pick up a bit now that the season's over," O'Rourke said. "Illinois has been in touch. Penn State a lot. All the schools I have offers from."
O'Rourke, a Scout300 prospect in the Class of 2018, currently holds offers from five power-five programs: Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa State and Syracuse.
On Saturday, he took an unofficial visit to watch Illinois take on Iowa. O'Rourke had visited the campus last spring as well.
The Illini were the second power-five program to offer O'Rourke behind Iowa State. What sticks out so far about Lovie Smith's program?
"The family atmosphere, how the coaches, how they bring you in like family and stuff like that," O'Rourke said. "Especially because they put it out there for me. They had faith in me early. That sticks out a lot."
O'Rourke also tripped to Michigan State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin this fall. Who's sticking out early on?
"Right now, I'd say Illinois, Northwestern and Wisconsin," O'Rourke said. "I kind of just want to see how things play out and maybe make a decision this spring or some time around there. The team is important but also the academics and the coaching staff. That's who you're going to be around."
An all-state selection, O'Rourke finished his junior season with 95 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and nine sacks. O'Rourke also is a standout wrestler. He has a long frame with room to grow combined with good athleticism and handwork. His junior season ended last week with Lincoln-Way East falling 34-31 to Maine South in the Class 8A quarterfinals.
"I just worked hard and just tried to make every play I could and play my best every game," O'Rourke said. "I tried not to look forward and took one game at a time, and that's it."