Michael Thompson holds scholarship offers from some of the top programs in the country. But that isn't scaring Illinois away from pursuing the four-star St. Louis (Mo.) Parkway North defensive tackle.
Thompson, Scout.com's No. 34 overall prospect and No. 2 defensive tackle in the Class of 2018, visited Champaign last month with a large contingent of St. Louis prospects.
"I like they had everything set up for us," Thompson said. "I thought it was very organized. The coaches showed a lot of love."
Illinois is trying to make a splash in St. Louis, which is loaded with talent the next few years. Thompson is possibly the biggest splash, figuratively and literally. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound is the top-ranked player in the Show Me State.
But Illinois will have to beat out some of the country's most successful programs for Thompson, who has offers from Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Penn State, just to name a few. The Illini are trying to sell Thompson on being a foundation piece of an Illini football resurgence under Lovie Smith.
"I like Lovie," Thompson said. "I think he's a great coach. I think he cares more about you as a person than as a player. They just say they're going to improve. They just let me know that they want me, and that I'm going to get better and that they're going to turn things up in the next few years."
Thompson recently took a second trip to Iowa and then took a trip to LSU.
"It was real hot down there," Thompson said. "That was the main thing I thought. Nothing besides that, nothing major stood out."
Anyone who wants Thompson will have to be patient. The highly-touted defensive tackle plans to let the process play out.
"I'm taking it slow," Thompson said. "I'm probably going to commit next year around Signing Day. I probably will (cut my list down) but not yet. I don't have anything established yet."