"Illinois has been at the top of my list through most of the recruiting process. I always felt Illinois was a good fit for me. It's the school I've wanted to go to for some time."
Most upcoming seniors enjoy the recruiting process and delay decisions on where they want to go to college until late in the process. Such is not the case with Afryl. He has a valid reason for his early commitment.
"I was a little weary of the whole process, all the questionnaires, emails and letters. I just wanted to be able to focus on this upcoming football season. We have a lot of changes being made in our program by our new coach. I just wanted to be able to focus on that.
"We're putting in a whole new offense and a whole new defense. So I didn't want anything sidetracking me."
Shawn wants his team to do well, so he is devoting all his time to reaching his goals. Niles West has some strengths but lacks depth at a couple positions.
"We're gonna be solid on both sides of the line. We're gonna have a good linebacking corps. We're gonna be hurting for dbs, and we don't have a running back or established quarterback at this time. We have a good corps of receivers though."
The 6'-4", 305 pounder isn't completely sure where he will play this fall for his team. He has the experience to play a number of positions.
"My sophomore year I played a few games at right tackle, and then I got moved back to left guard. Last year, I played right guard and nose tackle and a lot of times at the 3 technique. This year, depending on what the new head coach will want, I may see some time at center."
Illinois has told him he might be ticketed for the interior offensive line during his college career.
"I'll play wherever I'm needed. I've been told I'll be playing offensive line at either the guard or center position. I play both sides of the ball for Niles West. I just want to do what I can."
Illinois is always looking for top center prospects who are strong enough to handle dominant nose tackles, quick enough to pass defend, and smart enough to call line signals. Shawn might be a good candidate for the position.
"I've thought about center a little bit. I made a lot of calls last year, like audibles of which direction we were going if I saw a front we didn't prefer for the play we were running. So I should be able to handle the center position. I just need a good look at it."
Dan Disch has been his recruiting coach for Illinois. It was his steady influence that played a big part in Afryl selecting Illinois.
"I've known Coach Disch since my sophomore season. He's shown me steady interest. I went to the lineman camp two years in a row. This year, he told me there's no need to camp. He knows what I can do. I can just come down and hang out. He gave me such security, these people really do like me and are confident of my talent. So that was a plus too."
Illinois encourages its commitments to take visits and check out other schools. That way, they will be able to make comparisons and know for sure their decision was a correct one.
"I'm still gonna use my official visits. I haven't decided which schools yet. I was being recruited by a wide variety of schools. Mostly Big 10 and some Big East schools. UConn showed steady interest. Syracuse, Purdue, Wisconsin showed some interest, Michigan State, Colorado, Colorado State, Arizona, UCLA, and Nebraska was starting to look at me.
"But I am almost 100% going to Illinois unless something drastic happens. I'm pretty confident of my decision. Illinois is a good place. I've been down there and seen the campus, and I like what I see. I feel it will be a nice home for five years."
Shawn already knows what he wants to do with his college degree.
"I want to become a high school teacher. I want to teach American History and Sociology. And I want to minor in Political Science."
Afryl will attend the spring game if his parents can give him a ride.