Michael Buchanan kept everyone in suspense until the last minute, selecting Illinois over Big 10 rival Purdue Tuesday evening. The Homewood-Flossmore product is a 4 star recruit and brings leadership and athleticism to the Illini team.
Buchanan comes from the same school as current Illini freshmen Russell Ellington and Supo Sanni, as well as graduating senior Xavier Fulton. He appeared to be leaning to either Vanderbilt or Purdue when his lead recruiter Mike Locksley left for a head coaching job at New Mexico. But coaches Ron Zook, Reggie Mitchell, and new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore helped convince him that Illinois was the best school for him.
Homewood-Flossmoor football coach Kenneth Smith is glowing in his praise of Buchanan.
"Last year, we played him exclusively at linebacker. He didn't play any defensive end at all. Because he played linebacker last year, he was able to show his versatility.
"I think that's the one thing that rated so high. In some publications, he was rated as a 4-star athlete. I think that had a lot to do with the fact he did play linebacker the entire year."
Buchanan is playing basketball this winter. Smith says Mike's defensive abilities are utilized in that sport as well.
"Throughout the basketball season, when they have needed defensive stops, the basketball coach would always put him on the other team's best player. He's very athletic and very versatile for his size."
Listed at 6'-6", 220 pounds, Buchanan has the frame to add a significant amount of weight and strength. He will need to since Smith says he has lost weight for basketball.
"He's lost a lot of weight because of basketball. He's about 200 pounds right now. Once he gets to college, I see him playing around 245-250. He will definitely be a defensive end in college, probably an open side defensive end."
Buchanan will need time to develop his body, but his future is bright.