Slidell, Louisiana, offensive lineman Alex Hill has confirmed he is planning to sign with Illinois on National Signing Day Wednesday. But he had to decommit from Duke to do so. Calling the Duke coaches was a difficult but necessary step in the process.
"It was pretty tough because over this recruiting process I was friends with all the coaches. They aren't just good coaches but good people. It's hard to let good people know, but they want nothing but the best for you."
He changed his mind after a dynamite visit to Illinois.
"It was awesome. It was a great trip. It was a beautiful city. The hospitality, not just from the players but the students. We got to see a lot of them when we went out and about. Just the way those guys enjoyed being a part of Illinois. They made me feel right at home."
It also helps to have family nearby.
"All my family's up there in Chicago. I've always been in Louisiana, but my family's up there. We visit them about once a year. They can come to all my games."
Hill was also impressed with the coaching staff, especially head coach Ron Zook and his recruiting coach Paul Petrino.
"Coach Zook's an awesome guy. Coach Petrino is awesome, all the coaches are awesome. Coach Petrino is the main reason I'm going. He was recruiting me for Arkansas when he was there. So when he went to Illinois, I was one of the first names he put on the table."
Hill fills a need on the Illini team and has a chance for early playing time.
"I am definitely gonna play center. One of the things about Illinois is they don't have any returning centers. They'll give me an opportunity to come in, and if I do what I believe I can, I can get playing time. So it's kind of cool that I can determine my future."
Some recruiting services were aware of Hill's ability, but Scout had not had a chance to evaluate him. Now that Scout knows about him, a lowly one-star rating will likely be upgraded in coming days.
"I ended up with 18 offers. I was always under the radar. I knew I had the talent, but I wasn't going to these recruiting services trying to put my name out there. I live in southern Louisiana, and not many people from my high school go to major colleges. I didn't have anybody to introduce me to people because nobody was used to it."
The 6'-4", 315 pounder's final three choices came down to Illinois, Duke and Arizona, and that alone warrants more than a one-star rating. He also had offers from Missouri, Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Arkansas State and ten others.
Hill plans a major in sports marketing. He is eager to get started on his Illini career.
"June 14 I'll be there."