Illinois had kept in touch with Devon Matthews for a long time. But the Illini made their relationship more serious on Thursday, extending a scholarship offer to the Jacksonville (Fla.) Ribault defensive back.
"Once the season ended, I got a recruiting card from (Illinois cornerbacks) coach Paul Williams and he said he was gone keep in touch but we never really talked much," Matthews told Illini Inquirer. "But my high school football coaches kept telling me they were going to offer me, so I got on the phone with Coach Williams yesterday. He asked how my recruiting's been going and who my top schools are and he said he liked my play and film. He then said he plans on offering me either in the next day or two. So I got a text from both of my high school football coaches saying that I got an offer from Illinois. I felt excited as always when I receive any kind of offer to play for any team, so that sparked my day up."
Illinois is the latest to jump in on Matthews, who has experienced a flurry of offers during the last month. Mississippi State, Missouri South Florida, UConn, Colorado State and Florida Atlantic offered in May.
But the Illinois offer is special too, Matthews said.
"It means a lot for me," Matthews said. "It tells me I can play at any level conference in college football knowing that's my first Big Ten offer. I believe their coaches are great. They have a lot of experience in coaching NFL and college. Knowing that, I know that can help me reach my goal in making it to the NFL with that type of experience. They haven't really told me much about the school yet. I haven't talked to coach as much, but I will soon as I can. With that all that coaching experience, I feel that the opportunity there will be great for me to achieve my goal."
What's Matthews looking for in a program?
"I'm looking for a school that's going to give me a chance and the opportunity I need to make it to the next level to pursue my dreams," Matthews said. "Other things that are important to me are the relationship with the coaches and academics and what I want to major in."