Following in the footsteps of Ezekiel Elliott would be a hard task for anybody, but Jake Bain is up for the challenge.
Bain stars for John Burroughs High School in St. Louis,v just like Elliott did back in 2011 and 2012 before he moved on to Ohio State -- and eventually the Dallas Cowboys.
Illinois recently hosted Bain for a visit as the Illini try to delve further into St. Louis and assemble an important Class of 2018.
“I had a great visit," Bain told Illini Inquirer. "Started out with meeting some of the graduate assistants and they gave me a tour around campus which was really nice. I got to look at all the football facilities, and they talked to me about how they’re looking to expand their facilities within the next five years. They are going to enclose the one end of the stadium and build their new facilities with a lot of new stuff, so that was really cool.”
Bain would bring some serious versatility to the Illini. He has the ability to run the ball out of the backfield while also moving to the slot as a dangerous receiver. Illinois’ coaching staff would plan to utilize Bain’s full repertoire.
“What I got from Coach (Thad) Ward is that he is just recruiting me as an athlete,” Bain said. “He likes my dual capabilities of being able to catch balls out of the backfield as well as run the ball. So that’s what they’re looking for, to have a versatile running back who can both catch and run the ball, so I think I fit well into their system in that regard.”
As a sophomore, Bain used his blazing speed to rush for 2,172 yards and 31 touchdowns while helping John Burroughs win the Missouri Class 3 title. During his junior campaign, he finished with 842 rushing yards and 389 receiving yards as his role changed more from a running back to a slot receiver.
“Obviously, it says something seeing a sophomore go for 2,000 yards,” Bain said. “It started with our line. I think I had the best line in the state, and I think that’s why we were able to go so far. I know that without them, I wouldn’t have had the season that I did.”
John Burroughs has had some great running backs come up through their system. Elliott is already a star for the Dallas Cowboys as he nearly broke Eric Dickerson’s record for the most rushing yards by a rookie on his way to making the Pro Bowl. John Moten IV is another Burroughs alum and he currently plays for Northwestern and rumbled for 128 yards and two touchdowns against Illinois late last year.
Bain has learned from both Elliott and Moten IV both in the terms of work ethic and how to prepare for the college game.
“My older brother and (Elliott) played together and were real close so I benefited a lot from that,” Bain said. “He always gave me great advice about staying humble and he knows how hard it is to win – I mean he went to the state championship three times and lost. But he was just telling me to stay on the grind and working and trust my line and trust my speed. He just gave me great advice the entire season.”
Bain has attracted initial interest from Illinois, Illinois State, Bowling Green, Indiana, Indiana State and Vanderbilt. He says both Illinois State and Indiana State plan to offer a scholarship soon and that he should have an offer from Murray State by the end of the month.
Although he left Champaign without a scholarship offer, Bain thinks things are looking very promising.
“They want to get me up to camp this summer and let me perform. Things are looking good,” Bain said. “There’s nothing I didn’t like about the campus. I’m a student-athlete first and getting my degree is a big thing for me and they have a great education program. I would definitely put Illinois at the top of my list.”