Daniel Callendar will need to add some strength whenever he enters a college football program. Based on his official visit to Illinois, the 6-foot-6 Yuma (Ariz.) Catholic defensive end said that probably won't be a problem if he chooses Champaign.
“One thing that really stood out was the food and how they fed me," Callendar told Illini Inquirer. "I was never hungry.”
Callendar was impressed by the Illini campus during his first official visit.
“I really liked the visit," Callendar said. "They treated me very well. They just put a whole different view in front of me seeing an actual college town and all the people there. I really liked the environment. I can really see myself there.”
Callendar toured the campus, enjoyed the Illini basketball game at State Farm Center, hung out with staff and players and also met with advisers from the college of engineering, a rare desired choice of study for a football player.
“I have my mind set (on engineering) and I’m determined," Callendar said. "It’s a high-level program, five in the nation. They told me, ‘it’s no joke.’”
Wintry conditions didn't negatively affect the Arizona product's enjoyment either.
“I like the cold. It wasn’t really bad," Callendar said. "I’ve been with the cold before so it’s not my first time. We used to live in Dallas and we had the seasons, so it’d get cold.”
The trip gave Callendar his first opportunity to meet with Illini head coach Lovie Smith.
“It was awesome," Callendar said. "He was a really cool guy. Everything I’ve heard about him, how he’s soft-spoken, it’s all true. He’s a really cool dude.”
“He told me I would really fit going there and that they’re losing all their defensive ends and are recruiting a lot me. It’d be a big opportunity, and I’m to come here and seize it.”
The Illini would like Callendar to commit, but the long, athletic pass rusher said he will take some more time to think about it.
“They want me to (commit)," Callendar said. "It’s up to me now. I think I have a really clear point of view. I really like the college. I can really see myself there. When it comes time, I think I’ll make the right decision. I really liked it. Illinois is in the lead of all the other colleges, I’d say that.”
Callendar said he will visit South Dakota State and Wyoming -- the two other FBS programs to offer -- and may also visit Arizona State, which has shown increased interest.
“I’m going to go on these other visits that I’ve been invited to and see what they have," Callendar said. "After that, yeah, then comes decision time.”