Illinois continues to add much-needed depth to its defensive line.
Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Catholic defensive lineman Deon Pate committed to the Illini on Sunday during an official visit. He was previously committed to Appalachian State.
An official visit to campus last weekend sealed the deal.
"I loved it," Pate told Illini Inquirer. "There I felt more at home and a personal connection with the coaches and the vision that the coaches have for the program. It's a vision that I want to be a part of. I just liked the way they carried themselves and how they have an uprising vision for the program.
"Just the overall mentality of the coaches knowing that they are going to build a great program and the campus was perfect. There is nothing more that you could ask for."
Pate, rated a two-star prospect by Scout.com, chose the Illini over offers over Rutgers, Buffalo, Colorado State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Miss, Troy and some FCS programs.
Pate, who could play defensive tackle as well, joins the Illini defensive line makeover following the losses of five seniors: Dawuane Smoot, Carroll Phillips, Gimel President, Chunky Clements and Rob Bain.
"I will bring speed, quickness and I am a diverse player, meaning I can play more than one spot on the defensive line," Pate said. "But I will be coming in as a strong-side defensive end.
Pate is the 21st commitment for the Illini in the Class of 2017. He is the fourth Florida product to commit to Illinois. Miami Central teammates Carmoni Green and Owen Carney are already on campus, while running back Mike Epstein is set to sign with Illinois on Wednesday for National Signing Day.