The Illini hope to add even more top prospects from an area saturated in Class of 2018 talent, and Ayodele Adeoye is near the top of the wish list. The Illini took a solid step forward in that recruitment as they hosted the three-star St. Louis Ritenour linebacker for a junior-day visit on Saturday.
"It was good," Adeoye said. "It was a good experience. I watched some practice and loved it. We had a tour around campus, and I had a chance to talk with Lovie Smith and Hardy Nickerson. That was a good experience."
Illinois has targeted Adeoye as one of its top linebacker targets in the Class of 2018. The three-star prospect thinks highly of the Illini staff.
"Those are great guys to be around," Adeoye said. "Those are great coaches to play for. I really like that about the University of Illinois, the experience of the coaching staff which you can't find everywhere."
If Adeoye plays at Illinois, he'd be coached by Nickerson, a five-time NFL Pro Bowler who now is the Illinois defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
"Just the way he coaches, he coaches different from everyone else I've been around which I like," Adeoye said.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker has blown up recently and now holds nine power-five scholarship offers, including Illinois, LSU, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa and Indiana.
"It's been cool," Adeoye said. "I'm just enjoying the process. I don't want to get too overwhelmed. I'm just going to focus on what I can control right now and let everything else fall in play."
Adeoye said he plans to visit Kentucky, Ole Miss, LSU and Georgia soon but still needs to finalize his schedule.
"I'm not really leaning toward anyone. I just want to take most of these visits."
What's he looking for in a program?
"I want a place that feels like home," Adeoye said. "I want a good position coach, and then I really want to win football games."
The Illini's efforts in St. Louis don't go unnoticed with him though.
"For sure that matters," Adeoye said. "It's guys from home. It's good they got a little bit of East St. Louis guys. They got St. Louis guys. They got some good guys from down here."