Mt Prospect OL Alex Palczewski commits to Illini

Illini open and now close recruitment for late-emerging in-state offensive tackle Alex Palczewski

Alex Palczewski said Sunday afternoon that he wanted to sit on his decision for a few days and really take some time to think it over.

By Monday morning, the Mt. Prospect (Ill.) offensive lineman had decided that he'd had enough.

"I was just talking with my parents," Palczewski said. "I felt like Illinois was definitely the right fit for me. I thought, 'Why wait any longer?'"

The state's No. 2 ranked offensive tackle decided he wanted to stay in state, giving Illinois his verbal commitment.

"When you look at all the top recruits (in the state), they never go to Illinois," Palczewski said. "That kind of makes me mad, like mad. With Illinois, for the longest time people have thought of Illinois as, 'Oh, they're not good at football.' I want to change that.

"I just felt extremely comfortable there. I know that with Coach Smith there, he's just going to build that program and we're just going to win in the future."

So Palczewski's 's recruitment has come full circle -- in a short period of time.  His recruitment didn't take off until Illinois became the first to offer in mid-November. Just two whirlwind months later, Palczewski gave his verbal commitment to Illinois, just a day after returning from an official visit to Champaign.

Palczewski chose the Illini over offers from Syracuse and Vanderbilt. He visited all three finalists for official visits during the last week.

With Illinois offensive line coach Luke Butkus and linebackers coach Tim McGarigle visiting Prospect High School today, Palczewski was able to tell the Illini staff the news in person.

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"We were talking, and he was asking me some questions, and afterward I was just like, All right, I'm going to go football at Illinois then,'" Palczewski said. "He was just looking back at me really excited about it."

Palczewski then broke the news to head coach Lovie Smith on the phone.

"Coach Smith, he doesn't show a lot of emotion," Palczewski said. "So (Butkus) told me he was really excited because (Smith) was using words like 'awesome.' That's how he knew he was really excited."

Palczewski missed most of his junior season and the following spring and summer camps due to a neck injury. But he put together a great reel of senior film, so impressive that Illinois offered just a few days after laying eyes on it. Since then, Palczewski was one of the Illini's top offensive line targets. The 6-foot-6, 275-pound offensive tackle (and high-school wrestler) continues the Illini's push to get bigger and more physical on the offensive line.

"I'm really happy I made this choice," Palczewski said. "I feel like I made the right choice. It's a big weight off my shoulders. I'm happy about it."

Palczewski joins an already impressive group of offensive linemen that includes 6-foot-5, 330-pound  St. Louis Trinity Catholic guard Larry Boyd, 6-foot-5, 340-pound Rockford (Ill.) Auburn guard/tackle Vederian Lowe and 6-foot-5, 270-pound Cincinnati Colerain tackle Howard Watkins.

"I know when we start playing, we're going to be unreal," Palczewski said.

Illinois went 2-for-2 on landing commitments from previously uncommitted official visits from last weekend. Three-star Florida tight end Louis Dorsey committed during his visit on Saturday.

Palczewski is the 20th commitment for the Illini in the Class of 2017 and the 10th in-state native in this class to commit to Illinois (when including St. Louis University High and Belleville, Ill., native Tony Adams). The Illini class currently ranks No. 33 in the team rankings.

Palczewski's message to Illini fans?

"We will win," he said.

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