Know Mike Cruz

The Fighting Illini football team is recruiting quality athletes all over the country, so many are not well known within the state of Illinois. One outstanding player Illini fans should wish to know better is Mike Cruz.

Listed as a tight end and defensive lineman, Mike Cruz is a 6'-4", 255 pound bruiser from Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He is quick, strong and aggressive, the kind of player Coach Zook is looking for to transform the Illini football team into national contenders.

This polite and friendly young man is a coach's dream for his willingness to play anywhere needed.

"I actually wouldn't care where I play. As long as I'm on the field, I want to be a playmaker. Anywhere on the defensive line, tight end, tackle, guard, center are all fine with me.

While he lists his mother as his hero, he does have some players who serve as role models for his game.

"On offense, I watch tight ends like Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, Jr.. Defensively, I enjoy Michael Strayhan. I love to hit someone and bull rush, to get in there and make the play." Illinois' connection with Mike Cruz is assistant coach Jim Pry.

"Coach Pry recruited both my brother and me for Akron. We have a real close friendship going on 3 years now. He's such a great guy. He's so down to earth. He's just an all around great guy to talk to. We have a friendship that goes beyond football, and I know if I have a problem I can call him."

Mike also likes Coach Zook.

"He is a real cool dude."

Cruz hasn't finalized any plans regarding his possible future college.

"There's a lot of schools recruiting me, and I can't remember all of them. My mom knows the list better than I do. She is the one who helps me sort through everything to decide who is telling the truth. I'd be lost without her."

Three schools seem to be especially interesting to Mike at this time and will likely receive official visits later this fall.

"I haven't been thinking about this too much this summer. I've been worrying about the upcoming season and trying to help the younger guys on my team learn the plays. I've been looking forward to taking all five official visits and then deciding. My list might change several times before I make the visits.

"Illinois, Florida State and Clemson are especially interesting to me, although nothing is set in stone yet. But those three I like a lot. I like Illinois especially because you had 16-17 true freshmen playing this last year. Coach Zook and Coach Pry are two of the coolest guys I've met, so I definitely want to look into them further."

Cruz also hasn't finalized his plans for a major field of study in college, but one area stands out.

"Sports management, coaching, or anything dealing with sports is up my alley."

Whoever lands Mike Cruz will have a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners type of football player, the kind who helps win games.

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