Second semester classes at Illinois begin January 20, and two football recruits will be enrolling. Junior college transfers Jamar Bass and Aaron Gress will have the advantage of going through winter conditioning and spring practices so they can be ready to contribute this fall.
Bass is transferring from Hutchinson Junior College in Kansas. Originally from Apopka, Florida, Bass impressed the Illini coaching staff enough to be offered a scholarship. Hutchinson head coach Rion Rhoades says Jamar can play either tackle or guard for Illinois.
"We played him at left tackle just because we needed him there for our offense. But he could play either position very well. He'll do a great job wherever they put him."
Bass was named 1st team All-Conference. Hutchinson is part of the 8 team Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, and it compiled a 7-4 record this season. Rhoades discussed Jamar's best attributes.
"He's very athletic for 6'-4", 295 pounds. He can move really well and has great feet. For being as long as he is, long arms and legs, he's very strong. Overall, I would say it's his athleticism that makes him very good, and I'm sure that's what attracted Illinois to him."
Bass benches 385 pounds and has squatted an impressive 615 pounds. Coach Rhoades says his phenomenal 40-yard dash time of 4.69 seconds is no myth.
"Yes, that's true. That was on turf in cleats."
Jamar has two years to play two seasons at Illinois. Rhoades explains that Bass was redshirted his first year of junior college.
"He's actually been in school five semesters. He redshirted and then played two years. We chose to redshirt him when I was at Fort Scott Community College. We did not keep any out-of-state linemen that year. We're only allowed 12 out-of-state players on our roster each season. He later followed me to Hutchinson."
It is difficult to recruit to a junior college in Kansas. After all the high school qualifiers pick their schools, the junior colleges work with the remaining players interested in playing past high school. Rhoades explains how Bass ended up in Kansas.
"You really have to work to find the great ones who can make a difference. Our offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Josh Gooch recruits in Florida. A guy who pointed him out to us had worked at his high school in the past."
Rion Rhoades thinks Jamar Bass will be a big help to the Illini.