Jeremy Werner // Illini Inquirer

Chicago Marist 3-star TE T.J. Ivy breaks down top-four

T.J. Ivy discusses why he cut down his list to four and what draws him to each program

T.J. Ivy felt strongly about four of the more than two dozen schools pursuing him.

So the three-star Chicago Marist tight end, who has more than 20 scholarship offers, decided to just go ahead and trim his list to four.

"Personally, I feel like I'd seen a lot of what I needed to see," Ivy told Illini Inquirer. "Obviously, like I said, my recruitment is still open. But based on what I have, I have a lot of great options, and I don't want to waste anybody's time, so I just put it out there. I let the coaches know who'd been in touch with me a lot and had been highly recruiting me of the direction I was going to go into."

Ivy's list contains three Big Ten programs (Illinois, Indiana and Iowa) and one Big 12 program (West Virginia).

"The main thing they all have in common is that all these schools have the tools to put me in the best position I think both athletically and academically as far as for football and after football, because football's going to end eventually," Ivy said.

Ivy broke down what he likes about each program, of which Iowa is the only one to not yet offer.

Indiana: "Coach (Tom) Allen and Coach (Mike) DeBord, they have a phenomenal coaching staff there. I've liked them before I even had any offers. I told my coaches what schools I'd be interested in pursuing and Indiana was one of the first. Indiana's always been one of those I've been interested in, and Coach Allen kind of tops the cake on that one. He's very good guy. Every time I've visited there, the coaching staff's been phenomenal. I really love the culture over there. It's very comfortable."

West Virginia: "West Virginia, they came in a little bit later, but I have a really good relationship there. It's a bigger university, and I've always been interested in them as well when I was a kid with all the players that came out of there, like Tavon Austin."

Iowa: "Iowa is just a little bit different with their recruiting class. It's very interesting to me. They're a little slower, especially with the tight end position. But it's worth it because they have put every starting tight end they've had into the league (NFL) since 1999."

Illinois: "Illinois is one that it'd be amazing to take my state team and bring them back to the top of the Big Ten. Plus, Lovie Smith is a great coach as well. There's a relationship built there as well. The tight end is kind of a necessity for Illinois is the kind of way they put it. They really like the way I play. They've been watching me since I was a sophomore. Tight end is definitely a need for them, and they want to be able to create match-ups with the tight end."

Illinois has made Ivy and Chicago Marist teammate Gavin McCabe, a three-star defensive linemen, top priorities. Indiana also has offered McCabe. Ivy said the Marist duo talks often about joining up together.

"Me and Gavin have actually talked about that a lot," Ivy said. "It's something we'd both be interested in because being able to keep that connection throughout college, it's a different type of feeling."

Ivy said he hopes to visit each school in his top-four this summer and make a decision before his high school season.

"Once I visit, I think I'll have a pretty good idea of how I feel about a school," Ivy said. "Once I visit, then I just got to be able to feel comfortable and make sure whatever school I choose is going to be the best for me."

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