Carlos Sandy is on a long tour of colleges with his Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons teammates. The three-star wide receiver already has tripped to Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. He'll also visit Cincinnati, Wake Forest and North Carolina.
But Thursday's visit to Illinois was a big one for Sandy. The Illini are one of two power-five programs, along with Syracuse, to offer the speedy slot receiver.
"It was great," Sandy said. "It was extremely great."
Sandy and his teammates, including 2019 quarterback Nik Scalzo (who has an Illini offer), arrived at Illinois at about 10 a.m. and left campus around 3 p.m. He got to better know the Illini staff face-to-face.
"They were just showing mad love," Sandy said. "I was loving everything they were telling me."
Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee has been one of the lead recruiters for Sandy, who would fill a big need for the Illini. Illinois wasn't able to corral its top slot receiver targets in the Class of 2017, so it's a big focus in the Class of 2018. Sandy is a quick accelerator with breakaway speed. He's also a good leaper who high-points passes.
"I’ve been talking to Coach McGee since before spring started," Sandy said. "I've kept talking through the recruitment. He tells me I’ll be able to be a major impact in the slot."
Sandy also met with Illini wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker for the first time. The former Tampa Bay Bucs wide receiver coach talked with Sandy about the nuances of the game.
"He was teaching me about releases and attacking the ball in the air," Sandy said. "He’s great. We stay in contact a lot more recently. This was my first time meeting him in person. He’s got a lot of experience. He can teach me a lot."
Sandy said his 20-minute meeting with head coach Lovie Smith stood out most though.
"He was talking about the program and what he’s trying to do and how he’s going to make it great again," Sandy said. "He’s a great guy. I know if I come here, I’ll be in the right hands. I'm really taking that into consideration on the visit."
Smith also pitched Sandy that the Illini football facilities are about to undergo major improvement.
"I didn’t know that there was going to be a $100 million renovation," Sandy said. "That was really nice. They said they’re going to renovate the indoor facility, remove all the dorms and bring in new ones and renovate the stadium too."
Illinois has prioritized Sandy -- who also holds offers from Syracuse, Southern Miss, Toledo, Western Michigan and several other FBS programs -- and seems to have put themselves in good position at the moment.
Sandy said he plans to take time with his decision, likely holding off on a commitment until after his senior season.
"I don't have a place where they stand, but I really like them," Sandy said. "I want to sit down and talk to my family about who has the best decision for me football and after football."