Jeremy Werner // Illini Inquirer

Illinois Fighting Illini get closer look at 3-star Normal OL Marcellus Johnson

Normal Community offensive lineman Marcellus Johnson had a chance to make a significant impression on the Illinois coaches on Friday. Will it be enough to earn a scholarship offer?

CHAMPAIGN - Marcellus Johnson this summer is one of the faster-rising prospects from the state of Illinois.

During the past two weeks, the Class of 2018 Normal (Ill.) Community offensive lineman has earned offers from Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Wyoming, Indiana State, North Dakota and Missouri State.

Illinois also has taken a keen interest in the three-star prospect and invited him to the Friday Night Lights camp to get a closer look.

"It was all right," Johnson told Illini Inquirer. "I learned some things. I have some stuff to work on, but it was a good experience. People from all over different places to show what they got. We were all just working."

Johnson, a 6-foot-4 lineman, played last season at 245 pounds but lost weight during the season. But he has transformed his body this offseason. He weighed in at 276 pounds at the Illinois camp on Friday.

"It's been a lot since last (season); it's been a dramatic increase," Johnson said. "I'm going to keep on working, keep on getting stronger."

While Johnson must continue to add strength -- he was out-muscled during a few one-on-one reps on Friday -- his frame, potential to add strength and his athleticism (he ran a 5.19 40-yard dash) are very intriguing to Illinois.

Illinois offensive line coach Luke Butkus spent a lot of time with Johnson on Friday. While evaluating Johnson, Butkus also gave the in-state prospect some pointers.

"When you're run blocking, bringing your knees up through and driving through someone," Johnson said. "And when you're pass blocking, just staying down and not getting too wide. Coach Butkus was a great coach. He's an amazing coach. He knows his stuff. He picks up on stuff real quick. You give him one or two reps, and he knows what to tell you.

"He said he loved my feet and loved how I hold my weight," Johnson said. "I just got to work on getting off the ball and staying with good balance. Other than that, I'm good."

The Illinois coaches -- who want to add three or four more offensive linemen in the Class of 2018 -- will convene on Monday to discuss their summer-camp evaluations and likely will extend scholarship offers to some prospects. Johnson hopes he'll be one to get the good-news call. Illinois already has earned commitments from two IHSA Big Twelve Conference players: three-star Peoria quarterback Coran Taylor and three-star Danville offensive lineman Julian Pearl.

"I guess they just like staying where near they're born and what they know the best," Johnson said. "That's cool with me.

"That would be wonderful to get my first Big Ten offer. It's a great place. It's a great program. Up-and-coming. It'd be nice to play here."

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