Illinois received a major recruiting boost with the commitment of outstanding tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in July. One of the best tight ends ever recruited by the Illini, Illinois wasn't in Fiedorowicz's plans until he walked onto the campus.
"I didn't really even consider Illinois until I came here. And within the first hour, the people were awesome.
"My first visit, that's all I needed. I was talking to Coach (Joe) Gilbert, Coach Zook and Coach (Mike) Schultz, and they're all awesome people. That was the biggest thing that helped me make my decision. And the campus. I just love all the guys here. It only took me one visit to make me realize what I wanted."
The 6'-6", 245 pounder is a multiple sport prodigy. Some said he had a future in basketball if he wanted it, and he was reported to have a 91 mile per hour fastball. But he had to set some priorities due to the demands of each sport.
"My freshman year, I was kind of getting overwhelmed with all the sports, travel baseball, travel basketball and football. I ended up quitting basketball. I switched from baseball to track. It was just too hard to balance everything out.
"AAU basketball takes a lot of time, being so far from my house. I had to drive 45 minutes back and forth to practice. I stopped growing for basketball. Being only 6'-6", I eliminated that after about eighth grade. And then baseball, I just didn't love it like I did football."
So when he is not playing football, he is running track. He has had a great deal of success as a runner also.
"In track, I do the 4 by 100, 4 by 200, 200 and 100 (meters). My best time in the 100 is 11.3. It's ok, especially since my starts aren't good."
Fiedorowicz made an indelible impression on everyone who watched him at the June 7 on 7 camp on the Illinois campus. He repeatedly jumped over the top of defenders for pass receptions. He was unstoppable. He also played safety for his Johnsburg team. There aren't many 6'-6" safeties out there.
"My school is so small, and I have pretty good speed for my size. Most teams run the ball, so I'm just sitting back there to stop the run."
The Johnsburg Skyhawks lost the championship game on a long, hot day in Champaign. But their weekend wasn't over.
"We were all sore and tired and couldn't move. We ended up losing by a touchdown with about a minute left. We tried scoring, but there wasn't enough time on the clock. We ended up playing 7 more games the following day at NIU. It was a long weekend."
He hopes his team will make the high school playoffs, but they must face some teams much larger than themselves during the season.
"We're small, but we've got a lot of athletic guys. We'll be all right. In 7 on 7, we did well. We're in 4A. If we get to the playoffs, I think we can make a run. But the hardest part is making the playoffs due to the conference we're in (Fox Valley). We play 7A and 8A schools."
After watching practice at Camp Rantoul, Fiedorowicz realizes the Illini may finally have the tight end depth to use the position fully. Of course, a player of his ability and potential might just see plays designed to take advantage of his special skills.
"Yeah. Coach Schultz is talking about putting in new routes for the tight ends and kind of switching the offense around a little for me too."
Fiedorowicz seems firm with his commitment. He is grateful all the recruiting calls have ceased.
"That all stopped. I'm just talking to Coach Gilbert a lot and Coach Schultz a lot. It's nice to just kind of chill around with good people."