Zook Lands Key Prospect

Ron Zook is a great recruiter and he's surrounded himself with a talented staff that can also recruit. However, Zook isn't a miracle worker. He took over at Illinois extremely late in the recruiting game and he found the pickins slim not only in the Midwest but also in the state of Florida. That being said, Coach Zook can smile a little this morning as he landed a key verbal commitment from a Chicago recruit over the weekend.

Sam Porter, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound, linebacker, from Chicago (Morgan Park) visited Illinois over the weekend even though he had given Ball State his verbal commitment in December.

Porter was a steal for the MAC Conference. He had 127 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as a senior. He was named all-state.

"Coach (Ron) Zook and Coach (Reggie) Mitchell have both recruited me pretty hard," Porter said. "When they asked me to visit Illinois, I knew I couldn't pass that opportunity up. It's been a dream of mine to play in the Big Ten.

"Illinois was great. The academic support is really what did it for me. They have an incredible support staff down there.

"Bryant Creamer was my host and he's from (Chicago) Simeon so we hit it off right away. We're going to try and get this thing right at Illinois. I've already spoken to Double D "Demetrius Jones" about coming to Illinois.

"Demetrius and I have been playing football together since the 5th grade and I told him that I want him at Illinois. It's time to get this thing turned around.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be at Illinois. I want to be a part of the linebacker tradition. I want to be a difference maker. I'm hoping the rest of the (Chicago) public league takes notice as well as the state of Illinois. We need to keep our own at home if you know what I mean."

Yes Sam, we know what you mean. Iowa and Wisconsin have beaten the past Illinois staff like a drum in the Land of Lincoln in the past years.

Iowa's Lester Erb landed Tony Moeki and Dace Richardson from Wheaton, Dan Doering from Barrington, Ryan Bain from Bolingbrook and Jake Christensen from Lockport. All of these prospects are Army All-Americans and are leaving the state of Illinois.

Ron Zook along with Mike Locksley, Dan Disch, Reggie Mitchell, Curt Mallory and the rest of the Illinois staff have vowed to take back their home turf in '05 and have already begun to plant the seeds.

The Double-D that Sam Porter talks about is Demetrius "Double-D" Jones, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound, quarterback, from Chicago (Morgan Park) and he's arguably the #1 junior prospect in the state.

Jones has the Illini on his early list of favorites. Jones and several other top juniors from Illinois have heard from Coach Zook and his staff and most of them have Illinois on their early list of favorites.

Signing Day is Wednesday but the real recruiting season for Illinois will begin in a few weeks when Coach Zook and his staff will have their 1st junior day for '06 grads down in Champaign.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories