Jeremy Werner // Illini Inquirer

Despite increasing blue-blood interest, 4-star DL Verdis Brown still has 'much love for Illinois'

Chicago native Verdis Brown returned home to compete in The Nike Opening regional at Halas Hall and updated his recruitment for Illini Inquirer

Verdis Brown may now play in football-frenzied Florida, but the Chicago native was happy to again compete in his home state.

Back in Illinois for his spring break away from IMG Academy, Brown participated in The Opening Chicago Regional at Halas Hall in Lake Forest on Sunday.

"It felt good to go against some kids from home that I haven't seen in a while," Brown told Illini Inquirer. "Then it felt pretty good seeing all the talent the Midwest has. A lot of people underestimate the power and the talent the Midwest has. It looks pretty good this weekend."

Brown was one of several four-star prospects working out on the defensive line, along with St. Louis prospects Michael ThompsonTrevor Trout and Ronnie Perkins. Brown mostly played offensive line during his first three prep seasons at Chicago Mt. Carmel and will play offensive line again at IMG Academy this fall. But several schools are recruiting him as a defensive lineman, including Illinois.

"It's just been trying to see where I'd fit, on which side of the ball," Brown said. "I've been in love with defense ever since I was a little kid. That's where I started, so I kind of have a little bias for defense."

Brown remains a hot commodity on the recruiting trail. He recently added Michigan to an offer list that includes Illinois, Michigan State, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Missouri and Ole Miss, among others.

"It's starting to get a little bit crazy," Brown said. "But I got my mom and my dad and my brother. They're always there 100 percent of the time making sure I have my head straight and that I'm staying down the right path."

Brown said Texas, Auburn and Alabama all have started to show interest as well.

"I knew I had the talent but didn't know it'd be anything like this," Brown said. "It's mind-blowing at the same time. You always got to make sure you stay humble. My dad always tells me that with great offers come great responsibility. What am I going to do with those offers? You got to go out day in and day out and perform because there's kids across the country that work as hard as you."

Yet, Brown said home-state Illinois -- the first program to offer, almost a year ago -- remains a major player in his recruitment. Brown visited Champaign (a frequent stop during the past year) for a spring practice in February, along with IMG Academy teammate and fellow Chicago native Houston Griffith.

"I still have much love for Illinois," Brown said. "That's my first offer, my hometown. It'd be great to go back and make Illinois great again. Coach Lovie, Coach Phair, they all do a great job. Coach Nickerson. It's really good. I talked to Coach Phair the other day. We had a nice conversation, and then I talked to him on the phone a lot. We've been talking frequently, so it's good."

Brown wants to cut list after spring ball is done at IMG. Before then, he wants to enjoy the rest of his spring break in sweet home Chicago.

"I don't plan on doing much other than hanging out with friends," Brown said. "Down at IMG, we work hard all the time, so it felt pretty good to come up here and take a little break."

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