Illini Receives Camp Visit From OSU Commit

Tuesday's Illini football camp was highlighted by the unofficial visit of star running back/defensive back Justin Green, a 5'-11", 180 pounder from Louisville, Kentucky (Male). Green committed to Ohio State a couple days ago but kept his promise to visit Illinois.

Justin is a two-time Kentucky state spring champ with a best time of 10.56 in the 100 meters. He is a four-star running back, but he has also been ranked by one recruiting service as the fifth best cornerback prospect in the country. Whoever ultimately lands him will be getting a good one.

Illini coaches are not intimidated by Green's recent commitment. Ohio State has been on a recruiting roll ever since they landed superstar quarterback Terrelle Pryor as numerous athletes are buying into National Championship vibes.

Green has connections to the Buckeyes since his older brother Marcus played defensive back there, so his commitment was not totally surprising. But the timing of the commitment may have been motivated in part to Ohio State filling up fast and likely telling recruits to get on board now or miss out. Illinois coaches will continue to recruit him until Justin tells them to stop.

It is interesting to observe Illini football recruiting. These coaches are amazingly relaxed and confident in what they are doing. They realize most early commitments are just reservations, so they continue to work toward signing day each February.

Some schools seek to lock up their recruiting classes early and favor an early signing period. But Illini coaches are just the opposite. They want their guys to visit other schools. They want them to find the right school for them, and they are confident top athletes will prefer Illinois once they can make comparisons with other programs.

The athletes learn that Illini coaches will be there for them all the way to the end, so the value of playing football at Illinois increases the longer the recruiting process proceeds. It takes supremely confident coaches to use this approach, but they appear to know what they are doing.

On another topic, Illini freshman Hubie Graham is supposedly looking impressive in early workouts. Scuttlebutt is that he may be faster than Michael Hoomanawanui despite prototypical tight end size. He also appears to have leadership potential. If he remains healthy and learns rapidly, he may provide excellent depth for the Illini this year. Illini coaches look forward to finding out for themselves when they can begin coaching him.

By the way, the Illini football team will be wearing 1960's retro uniforms for the Illinois Renaissance game against Eastern Illinois September 6 at Memorial Stadium. This will be an entire outfit including jersey, pants and helmet from Dick Butkus' era. The helmets and possibly the jerseys will be auctioned off eventually.

Ten athletes worked out for Illini coaches Tuesday morning. After watching a number of athletes run 40 yard dashes, it is obvious that times are not always a reliable indicator of a player's actual football speed. For instance, they are allowed to wear track shoes rather than football cleats, which may aid their times.

But the biggest variable is nearly impossible to correct. Track performers know how to get down into starter's blocks and make a quick getaway at the gun. But most football players have never done this before. They are taught briefly the form to use, but some have great difficulty getting upright into a speed position. Once they get going, they may have decent speed. But the start kills their time.

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