The University Of Illinois signed two outstanding players from Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, this past February. Receiver Steve Hull and running back Bud Golden are now on campus working out and attending summer school. They came out to a one-day camp recently to support friend and teammate Darius Hillary.
An upcoming junior, Hillary blazed to a clocking of 4.45 in the 40 yard dash and received compliments about his play at cornerback. He benefitted from having friends watching the action.
"Yes, sir. They've always supported me in everything I've done in high school. We've been good friends for awhile now. My brother is really good friends with them too. Whenever he hung out with them, then I would hang out with them.
"He was in their graduating class. He played football and is going to Campbellsville University in Kentucky for football and track."
Hillary attended the final day of the summer camp season alongside several other Ohio athletes. He enjoyed the experience.
"It was really good. I liked the way the camp was set up. They got right to the point. It was hot out there, but I was good for it."
The 5'-10", 170 pounder started at cornerback as a sophomore. What is his best attribute?
"My speed and knowing how to make plays. If I make a mistake, I make it full speed and learn from it later."
The intelligent, polite young man has some definite ideas on the things he wants to improve.
"Just working on technique and learning how to cover better in the main coverages is what I want to work on. And coming up and making some hits."
Illinois assistant coach Mike Woodward recruits the Cincinnati area and is already hard at work on Hillary. "Woody" made sure that he and star Akron, Ohio, St. Vincent-St. Mary junior cornerback Doran Grant met each other. They were possibly the top two corners at camp that day.
"Coach Woody introduced us to Doran Grant. We were just cool throughout the whole camp. He was real nice and a good player."
He was able to tour the Illini campus and football facilites and came away impressed.
"I thought the campus was real nice. I liked the weight room. It was big, with a lot of open space."
Hillary is not ready to identify any favorite schools.
"Not yet. I'd just like to see how this season will go and take things from there."
But he has some ideas what to look for in a future college destination.
"I'm looking for a good education program because education comes first before athletics. And I'd like to see comeraderie. That's really what I look for in a team."
The comeraderie Hillary feels with Hull and Golden, plus the positive experience at the one-day camp, may have given the Illini a good early start on his recruitment.