The state of Illinois produced three power-five tight ends in the Class of 2017: Cole Kmet (Notre Dame), Jake Marwede (Duke) and Logan Christopherson (Mizzou).
The Land of Lincoln likely will top that number in the Class of 2018.
Three other three in-state tight ends with power-five offers were on display Sunday at The Opening regional at Halas Hall: Chicago Marist's T.J. Ivy, Waubonsie Valley's Charles Robinson and Hinsdale Central's Matt Bjorson.
"I already knew Charles coming in," Ivy said. "Luke I just met. He's a pretty cool guy. He was fun to be around. Congrats to him on committing to Arkansas. We were pushing each other, telling each other, 'Get out there!' You just come here to compete. You got the best talent from everywhere. You just come out and compete with everybody."
Added Robinson: "I'm just trying to come here and learn from all the people. There are a lot of great players here and all the different coaches as well."
Illinois is recruiting Ivy, Robinson and Bjorson. After Ford's quick decision to commit to Arkansas, the Illini likely will turn up the heat for the in-state tight ends -- especially with Ivy, the one of the three who holds an Illini scholarship offer.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound prospect is the versatile weapon Garrick McGee wants in his offense. Ivy has a long frame and athleticism and showed off physicality in blocking drills on Sunday. He visited Illinois last month.
"I actually really like Illinois," Ivy said. "Lovie Smith is a great guy and really down to earth. My visit down there actually was really great."
Miami and Tennessee also are showing increased interest.
"Recruiting's going well," Ivy said. "I got 20 offers right now and counting. I'm going to keep trying to get them up. Hopefully so more schools will come through with this spring evaluation period."
What's Ivy looking for in a school?
"Basically, wherever I feel comfortable," Ivy said. "I want to go there and compete to play my freshman year. And education, that's big. If I'm going to go there, I want to make sure I get a good education and it's a place I can excel."
Illinois also is keeping an eye on Robinson, who has power-five offers from Iowa State and Mississippi State.
Robinson is more of a 'tweener than Ivy. He's 6-foot-3 with a skinnier waist (202 pounds), but he has the speed that some think could make him a split-out receiver at the next level. He showed off his athleticism Sunday at The Opening, ranking 12th among the hundreds of the Nike Football Ratings which measures football athleticism.
"Recruiting is going really good right now," Robinson said. "I've been kind of in a slump as far as my offers, but I think after this a couple should be coming in. I get a lot of messages from Iowa State and NIU and stuff like that."
Illinois asisstants Bob Ligashesky, Luke Butkus and Andrew Hayes-Stoker have been in contact with Robinson
"They really want me to come out and visit and look at their stuff," said Robinson, who will visit Notre Dame soon.
What's Robinson looking for in a school?
"I'm looking for a little school that's like close together, so I don't have to walk far," Robinson said. "I'm looking for a school with a good culture."