Photo by Jason Caldwell

Illini check in on Alabama OL Preston Mixon

Illini offensive line coach Luke Butkus made an in-home visit to priority target Preston Mixon. The Alabama offensive lineman recaps his visit and updates his recruitment for Illini Inquirer.

Preston Mixon had only talked with Luke Butkus through Twitter on and on the phone.

So what was the Montgomery (Ala.) Jefferson Davis offensive lineman's first impression when the Illini offensive line coach walked through the door of his home on Thursday?

"I couldn't believe we're about the same size," Mixon said of Butkus, the former Illini team captain and two-time All-Big Ten center. "Meeting him in person was exciting."

Butkus spent about an hour with Mixon, who long has been a priority for the Illini coaching staff. 

"We just really talked about what I want to major in and official visits," Mixon said. "He was just saying just to make sure that I make the best decision for myself and for my family, just to listen to everyone that's helping me and don't really let a coach force me to go a place."

Illinois wants to add Mixon's size and physicality to the interior of their offensive line, specifically at center.

"He tells me I could be a contender at a starting spot as a freshman because I play with a low pad level and I come off the ball," Mixon said. "That's exactly what they're looking for at the University of Illinois. He's saying I can start, and I can get a good degree. I think highly of it. I know for sure wherever I go that I'm going to be a contender for a starting spot because I've been working so hard to get to that level." Mixon said Memphis, Florida Atlantic, Troy Southern Miss, Cincinnati, San Diego State and Arkansas State are among the others recruiting him. He said he has switched up his top choices since releasing a top-five in August, though he said he's "not set" on a new short list.

Mixon is starting to schedule some official visits and tentatively plans to visit Illinois on Jan. 20, Florida Atlantic on Jan. 13 and to Memphis at some point. During the fall, he went to a few games at nearby Troy, where a few of his former teammates play. Mixon said "relationships" are the most important factor in his decision, which he said he can learn more about during his official visits.

"I ask a lot of questions to the coaches," Mixon said. "So basically I just want to get on campus and see everything."

Illini Inquirer Top Stories