Zach Bolton Discusses Illini Commitment

The Illini's annual football banquet was the chance to reflect upon and honor the standouts from the past season. It was also a chance for Illinois commits and recruits to meet and mingle with the players and coaches. One recruit was Zach Bolton, who came away so impressed he committed less than a week later.

When Texan Zach Bolton left Illinois after his visit, he had intentions of re-visiting Kansas and checking out a couple other schools before making a final decision on his commitment. That changed Friday when the offensive lineman committed to the University of Illinois.

"I liked it up there. I had a good bond with the players and the coaches. They have a family up there. I feel like it's a great fit for me. I was with my host, but I was always with five, six, seven, or eight players at a time.

"They've got a real close football team. It's like a family. It's all about the people. Coach Zook has an open door policy. As soon as I walked in the door, a player was walking out of his office. He talks with his players like they're his kids. I really like that."

The coaches also discussed where they see Bolton playing at Illinois.

"The Illinois coaches see me as a guard at the next level."

What made the Klein Forest prospect change his mind from Kansas?

"I had been on an unofficial visit to Kansas and met some of the players. Some of them were cool, but it seemed to me that all of them weren't as close as the players at Illinois. Also, I didn't want to be part of the mess there. Plus, the new staff didn't recruit me so they didn't know me too well."

The 6'-3", 270 pound lineman originally decided to take visits after Kansas head coach Mark Mangino was fired.

"Recently, the head coach was fired. I decided to start looking around and re-evaluate my recruitment and find the best fit for me. I committed to Kansas because I really liked the school and because it was one of the only campuses I had seen. I was familiar with it.

"With a commitment coming up, I was getting scared that I was going to get hurt so I committed to what I thought was the best place for me." Bolton came up Friday before the banquet and stayed through Sunday morning.

"When we got there, I ate with the coaches. We had some snacks. I met the other recruits. Later on, we went out and ate in the facilities. I went with my host Randall Hunt back to his house and then went out.

"On Saturday, we all ate breakfast together. Then Coach Zook talked, followed by the athletic director. Soon after, we went to the banquet. Afterwards, we went back to my host's house. His roommate Jon Asamoah had won MVP so they celebrated that and then we went out."

Bolton is spending the offseason preparing for his transition to college.

"I'm working on getting mentally and physically stronger. I'm also getting bigger. I don't do a winter or spring sport so I'm in the weight room getting bigger and stronger. I feel like my feet, hands, and run blocking are the best parts of my game, but I'll get better there too."

Bolton has an idea of what he wants to study at Illinois.

"I want to study either sports management or sports marketing."

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