McHenry fullback Jake Howe was exhausted after his weekend at Illinois, and he had a busy week at school. In position to discuss his official visit a week later, he is even more convinced he made the right decision to join the Illini.
"I had a really good time. I went on Friday and got to walk around the stadium a little bit. On Saturday, I met with the Kinesiology person and the academic staff. And I talked to Coach (Ron) Zook and Coach (Greg) Nord. I'm really excited to get down there this summer."
The new Illini tight end/fullback/H back coach made a big impression on Howe.
"I was really impressed with Coach Nord. He blew me away. He was actually more enthusiastic than Coach Petrino and Coach Gilbert. We were in a meeting and watching film. He got up and had me doing hand drills and stuff like that. Those two were pretty energetic as well, but Nord was even more energetic."
That is truly saying something. Nord described how the Illini had only redshirt freshman Greg Fuller at the position and was encouraging about the possibility of early playing time.
"I have a real good chance of playing this year because they're going to a fullback-oriented offense, and they needed one of those players. Right now, there's just one upperclassman who plays that position, so I have a pretty good chance of getting playing time.
"It will be like a backside tight end/fullback where they will put me in a lot of motion. Pretty much I'll be lead-blocking and running checkdowns out in the flat."
Howe met a number of other Illini prospects visiting the same weekend.
"All of them had great personalities. There wasn't anyone who wasn't a good guy. They seemed like good players, but I haven't gotten a chance to actually see them play. (Illinois tight end commitment) Evan Wilson was in the meeting with me and Coach Nord."
Howe is also friendly with Chandler Whitmer, the new Illini quarterback signee now now enrolled for second semester.
"I actually work out with Chandler Whitmer. We both go to a gym in Highland Park. So I've known him for a little bit."