After getting shut out of the state of Texas last year, Illinois has made the Lonestar State even a bigger priority in the Class of 2018.
On Tuesday, the Illini increased those efforts by extending Arlington (Texas) Martin tight end Brayden Willis his first power-five scholarship offer.
"Coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker offered me on the phone today after the Illinois coaching staff watched me as a whole," Willis sad. "They said they love my film and my style of play was comparable to what they want of a tight end. I was extremely excited because this was my first power-five offer, which is big. Also, ever since I've been talking to Illinois I've done research and I've really grown to like the university."
The more the 6-foot-4, 210-pound tight end learns about Illinois, the more he likes.
"The biggest thing is the academics is very prestigious," Willis said. "I did some research and found out that the school is some times referred as the public Ivy League, so I found that pretty cool. As of right now, I feel like the coach staff is very welcoming and very much like me. Coach Hayes-Stoker, the coach that offered me, is from where I go to school at so I can relate to him well."
Martin also holds offer from Houston, Texas State, Utah State, Colorado State, Southern Miss, Tulane and Grambling State. He said Purdue, Arizona and Tennessee also are showing interest.
"The three most important things to me in a school is if they are a great school in any of my three possible majors -- aerospace engineering, architecture, or business -- how close the coaches are with the players, and if the system fits my style of play," Willis said. "In terms of recruiting, I plan to make a decision mid-football season or the end of the football season. Most likely at the end because I would like to focus on being the best teammate to my team right now."