"It was a great thing to happen. I'm very excited."
He had a simple but revealing explanation for his early decision.
"I figured that was the school I wanted to go to. I've been to all the schools that have offered me, and I was pretty sure that is where I wanted to go."
New defensive line coach Keith Gilmore was the primary recruiter for Easterly. He first made contact when he was still coaching at Cincinnati.
"He's a real cool guy. I've been talking to him since before he first came to Illinois. I've known him for awhile now."
Gilmore had the benefit of a couple other connections between the Illini staff and Cass Tech High School.
"Coach (Reggie) Mitchell coached my coach, and Coach (Curt) Mallory and my coach played football at Michigan together."
Easterly had multiple sources pushing him toward the UI. So when he came for the Nike Combine at Memorial Stadium June 6, he was preconditioned to like it.
"I was only there the one time for the Nike camp. But I knew about it because my coaches, my dad, my brothers and my mom told me I would like it. So I knew I would fall in love with it. Both my brothers were recruited by Illinois before, so they'd been down there.
"I came into it with an open mind. So when I came down there to visit, it was great. I'd been to a whole bunch of other schools, and none of them compared with Illinois."
Easterly performed well at the Nike camp, and he enjoyed playing on Zuppke Field.
"When I was at the Nike camp, I liked the field too. It was really, really nice. So I fell in love with the stadium too. I came down the night before and checked out the campus. I'm coming back to Illinois for an official visit, and I plan to attend as many games as possible.
Academics is important to him, and he liked what he heard on that front also.
"I'm interested in Computer Engineering. I studied everything before I went down there. I got on the computer and looked up a whole lot of stuff. And when I went down there, the academic people told me about it too."
Easterly is a hard hitter, so it was not surprising to hear what he likes best about the game of football.
"The contact is my favorite part of the game. I've always told my coaches and my brother, if hitting was a profession, I'd be a professional hitter."
His abilities fit the safety position well.
"As a defensive back, some of my best attributes are my backpedal and the way I watch the ball. I've got good vision. I can keep my eyes on the ball and still backpedal and keep the plays in front of me. I'm really good in my coverage skills."
He wants to continue working hard on all aspects of his game. And he wants to be physically ready to compete for playing time early in his career.
"I want to be in tip-top shape so I can play my freshman year. So I'm trying to get as big as possible, add more weight and get my speed up even more. I want to do anything I can to get big and start my freshman year."
Various reports disagree about his height and weight.
"I'm close to 6'-5", and I weigh 197. The report saying I was 178 was at the All-America Camp. They said my weight was off. But that wasn't my correct weight. I've weighed 197 since 9th grade."
With his rangy frame, some predict he may grow into a linebacker. Would he object to playing linebacker?
"I don't mind. That's more contact for me. I don't mind at all."
Illinois coaches encourage their commitments to visit other schools so they'll know they are making the correct decision. Easterly will do that also.
"It's a verbal commitment, but I'll still go and check out other schools because that's what my people told me to do. It's more likely I'm going to Illinois. It's really solid I'm going to Illinois as of now."