Birmingham to Champaign is an eight-hour drive -- without stops. But Allen Love didn't mind the long trip to Illinois.
"It's far away from home, but I love it," Love told Illini Inquirer. "I always dreamed about getting away from home to play college ball, so I love it."
The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Birmingham (Ala.) Huffman three-star defensive tackle made the multi-day visit to Illinois with his parents -- and a friend: Illinois signee and fellow Alabamian Jamal Woods.
"Me and Jamal work out together, so we've been knowing each other for a while," Love said. "It'd be good to come up here and play with him. We've been around each other, so me and Jamal have a bond. It'd be good to play ball with him."
Love was able to take in the Illini spring scrimmage on Saturday.
"They got at it," Love said. "The defense and offense got at it. I liked it. It was a high-tempo practice. Coach Lovie's doing something good with the team, and it's going to be something big. It's exciting to see what they'll do in the future."
Love has more than a dozen Division-I scholarship offers including a recent offer from Kentucky, where Love soon plans to visit. Illinois has stepped up its interest lately.
"I'm just talking to them a lot," Love said. "They're hitting me up here and there. I'm talking to (wide receivers coach Andrew) Stoker a lot, almost every day. They got me up here (for a visit). They said I could come help them, help the system and bring some depth to the d-line."
During his weekend visit, Love spent some one-on-one time with the Illini staff.
"I talked to coach Lovie (Smith)," Love said. "He was happy I came. He'd been waiting to see me, and I talked to the d-line coach (Mike Phair), and he said he was happy I came. He said he wanted to come to camp and get to know him better."
What stands out about the Illini?
"Just the love from the coaching staff and how they treat my parents," Love said. "My mom, she kind of has a little feeling about me getting away from home, but it's just love from the coaching staff and for my parents. I'd be in good hands if I'm down here. I got Jamal down here, so that'd be a brother to me. He's going to watch over me because he's big bro. I just love the good hours it is away. It gives me time to think to myself and gives me some freedom. I like Illinois. It's definitely on the top of my list right now."