"I sat down and looked at all my options and looked at what was going on with my top choices. A couple of coaching changes, a couple of head coaches fired. I called up my recruiter from CMU and wasn't getting any answers.
"I figured something was going on, and I needed to commit soon. So I decided to go ahead and commit to Illinois because I know I like it and I know they like me so what's the point in waiting any longer for no reason."
He explained why he preferred the Illini.
"It seemed like a family oriented team. It seemed like a football family. We're teammates, but we're brothers and coaches are like fathers. It seemed like everybody was on your side. It seemed like everybody was there for you and everybody was there to help you."
Lankford, whose father played pro ball with the Miami Dolphins, shared the good news first with his recruiting coach Dan Disch and later with head coach Ron Zook.
"I called Disch first and then Coach Zook. I called Disch and we had a simple conversation about how things were going. Then I was like, ‘Well, I want to let you know I'm ready to get the ball rolling. I'm ready to become a Fighting Illini.'
"He was like ‘Great, just say the word'. So I committed. He was like, ‘Great, I'm excited'. He said it felt like a Christmas gift to him. I called Coach Zook and we had a general conversation, and then I told him I wanted to commit. He told me he was excited and how he would love to have me on the team."
The speedster will be in top condition for his June enrollment at Illinois. He will be spending the winter and spring working out for his high school track team.
"We're not in school, so we're not doing much. When we get back we'll have practice 2 or 3 times a week for conditioning, lifting weights, running, but not really working on our individual event. Around late February, we'll be working on our events, technique, form, and such."
He's not certain yet of his college major.
"It's still kind of up in the air. I think some kind of communications or business management."