Long and fast cornerbacks are the hot commodity throughout football, and Illinois is making a concerted effort to land some impact defensive backs in the Class of 2018.
Oswego East cornerback Antwain Walker is one who has caught their eye.
“The cornerbacks coach (Paul Williams) came to my school a couple weeks ago,” Walker said. “He told me to come down to camp. Then I’ve been talking to people and they’ve been telling me that Illinois is really interested in me, and they think that I’ll get offered once I’m in camp and I perform well.”
Walker stands at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, but it’s his long arms that many schools find the most attractive.
“My length is what all Big Ten schools like about me," Walker said. "I’m the cornerback that they are looking for. All the colleges have said that I can cover really well. I’m just working on improving my tackling.”
Walker is gaining popularity. This month, South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Indiana State and Western Illinois all have offered him. Illinois, Miami (Ohio), Indiana, Iowa, Colorado State, Duke, Missouri, Wyoming, Southern Illinois and Ball State are all very interested.
“I’ve heard from my head coach that a lot of big schools want to offer, they just want to see more of me tackling,” Walker said. “Then they’ve also come to my school and said ‘Just come to camp and you’ll get offered.'"
What does he like about Illinois?
“Lovie Smith just has a great connection with the NFL so that’s a huge thing for me and he was successful there,” Walker said. "He’s a great coach. I’ve never met him, but I know that he’s a good guy.”
Another advantage for Illinois may be the chance for early playing time for Walker. Smith showed last year with freshmen defensive backs Patrick Nelson, Stanley Green and Cameron Watkins that he isn’t afraid to play the young guys if he thinks that they give him his best chance to win.
“I’m so new to this recruiting process so wherever feels like home and a place where I can play is probably where I’ll go,” Walker said. “I do know that Illinois is low on defensive backs so that would also play a big role as well.”