Corey Bender

Florida RB Jakari Norwood commits to Illini

Florida running back commits to Illinois during unofficial visit

Jakari Norwood and his high school teammates are on a tour of several campuses. The team has traveled to Wisconsin, NIU, Toledo, Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Michigan. They also will visit Purdue this weekend.

But on Friday, Norwood decided Illinois was where he wanted to be. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound speedy running back committed to Illinois during an unofficial visit. 

"I just went on the college visit and talked to the running backs coach (Thad Ward), talked to the OC (Garrick McGee) and the head coach (Lovie Smith)," Norwood said. "They showed me around campus, and I decided that's where I wanted to be."

Norwood chose the Illini over offers from Southern Miss and Bowling Green.

What put the Illini over the top?

"The coaches," Norwood said. "The way they talk to me and the vibe I got was they really wanted me there."

Norwood adds much-needed speed to the Illini offense. The Illini may use him all over the field, like current running back Reggie Corbin. But the staff feels he has the extra burst to finish long runs in the end zone.

"They were just saying I’m their top running back," Norwood said. "They want me to play different places, but they say I can change their team. I can be one of the fastest in the Big Ten and be a feature back."

Norwood bonded with Ward, his lead recruiter.

"He’s form Florida like I am," Norwood said. "He keeps it real with me. He’s going to turn me into the best player I can be."

Norwood was one of two players to commit to Illinois on Friday, along with three-star Belleville Althoff offensive lineman Jordyn Slaughter.

This story is developing.

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