Jeff Cumberland Discusses Illinois

We had a chance to catch up recently with Columbus Brookhaven wide receiver/tight end prospect Jeff Cumberland.

The 6-4, 230-pound Cumberland committed to Illinois on Jan. 27 and signed with the Illini on Feb. 1.

Cumberland was a national top-100 prospect last summer after running a sub-4.5 second 40-yard time at Scout's Akron combine. But grade concerns led a number of schools (including hometown Ohio State) to back off of Cumberland, still ranked as the nation's No. 14 tight end by

As a junior, Cumberland helped lead Brookhaven to a 15-0 record and the Division II state championship. As a senior, he was selected as a member of the ONN/Ohio High All-Ohio team. During the regular season, he had 25 catches for 801 yards (32.0 average) and 13 touchdowns.

Cumberland also made visits to Marshall and Minnesota. But he felt comfortable when he made his official visit to Illinois over the weekend of Jan. 20.

"When I went on my visit, they made me feel like I was at home," Cumberland said. "I was very comfortable with them."

Illinois is coming off a rough 2-9 season under first-year head coach Ron Zook. But Cumberland was one piece of a strong recruiting class at Illinois. had it only trailing front runners Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten.

"They want to have a winning team," Cumberland said. "It is a new organization with new coaches. They felt like they would utilize me in their offense and I might have a chance to play right off the bat this year."

The energetic Zook seems to be working hard to turn the Illini around.

"I talked to some of the recruits and some of the players there and they said it was totally changed since he's been there," Cumberland said.

Cumberland indicated that he would start out as a wide receiver with the Illini. He said he was excited to be in the same class as Chicago prep standout Isiah Williams, who was ranked as the nation's No. 5 quarterback prospect by

"I think they will be looking to throw the ball," Cumberland said. "They have Isiah Williams coming in with this class and the quarterback they had last year (Tim Brasic) will be back for his senior season this year."

Before he enrolls at Illinois, Cumberland will participate in the Ohio North-South Classic June 17 in Columbus.

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