Brandon Denmark, an explosive defensive player from Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Florida, had a decision to make Wednesday. Denmark, who held offers from Arkansas and Illinois, needed to choose between the two schools. In the end, he faxed his Letter of Intent to Coach Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini.
"When I took my official visit, I saw just how good the academics were at Illinois. And also, I really liked the family atmosphere. I like Coach Zook as well. He's really close to his players.
"I'm also getting the chance to play in the Big 10 and the chance to be a 3-year starter, if not a 4-year starter. I felt real comfortable with the idea of spending my next four years there."
The 6'-4", 220 pound linebacker had been recruited by Illinois' Florida recruiting ace Dan Disch when a coaching change also made a significant impact.
"At first, Coach Disch was recruiting me, but then Paul Petrino went to Illinois. He had been recruiting me at Arkansas, so he and Coach Disch both recruited me to Illinois. It made me even more comfortable with Illinois."
On his official visit, Denmark got a chance to meet new defense coordinator Vic Koenning and learn about how he would fit into the Illinois defense.
"They see me as an outside linebacker and the nickel back. He told me they were going to use multiple schemes. I feel my speed around the edge is a big asset in my game. I run a 4.42, but I also want to improve my footwork and get stronger. Illinois fans should expect to see me play with a lot of heart when I'm on that field."
Denmark signed his letter of intent amongst friends and family.
"It was a great moment. I didn't know there were so many people in the room until I looked up. I was a little nervous. I enjoyed it, and it'll be something I'll always remember. I also had two teammates signing."
Though he's excited for the opportunity to play college football, Denmark is also glad recruiting is done.
"I'm kind of glad it's over. At first, it was something I enjoyed. Who wouldn't want to be recruited and have someone pay for your education? At the end though, it started to get a little stressful when I had to make a decision. You only get one chance at it."
Denmark is busy spending his offseason training himself for the jump to the next level.
"I'm working out with one of my high school coaches, who spent a couple of years in the pros. Hard work is what you need to succeed at any level. You have to work real hard to get what you want."
Denmark plans to major in business.