Crystal Lake South offensive lineman Jake Bernstein wondered if or when he would receive a major college offer. He is a quality prospect who is somewhat under the radar due to his location and the lack of a high school coach to get his name out. Waiting until May was difficult, but he was rewarded for his patience.
"I got the offer I was waiting for from Illinois. I was really excited about that, especially because it's an in-state school and a Big 10 school."
How did he finally hear the good news?
"Coach (Ron) Zook wrote me an email. He told me it was gonna come because we had talked earlier. He told me Coach (Joe) Gilbert was gonna call me because he really liked how I played.
"Basically, I think they were just waiting for me to meet Coach Zook. I met him at the Spring Game, and I liked him a lot."
If past history is any indication, other schools will take a look at Bernstein now that Illinois has offered. In fact, it has already begun.
"It's my only offer. Hopefully, some others will spark up and get moving. But I don't know what's going on.
"Michigan State came through. They didn't really know who I was, but they heard my name and just wanted to check our school to see who I was. The offensive line coach (Dan Roushar) really liked me. Any Big 10 school would be great."
Bernstein came to Champaign-Urbana for the Spring Game April 24. It was a short but productive trip.
"Basically, we just talked to Coach Gilbert and watched them play football."
The Illini kept most of their offense and defense under wraps during the game. Despite that, Bernstein liked what he saw.
"It was beautiful. I think their defense is really gonna be strong this year. Last year it was a little porous. And Coach Gilbert's attention to detail was key. They were finishing their blocks.
"I don't know who will be the starting quarterback, but all three quarterbacks seemed awfully strong. I enjoyed watching the team play football. I hope they're good this year."
He doesn't have to prove himself, but Illini coaches are still encouraging him to attend a one-day camp in June.
"They still want me to come down for a one-day, just to work with Coach Gilbert. I think I'll plan to do that."
While news was positive on the recruiting front, Bernstein and his high school teammates are still without a head football coach with summer fast approaching.
"Right now, our defensive coordinator is in charge. He's the interim coach. It's tough not to know the kind of offense and defense we'll play next year. The guys are basically doing their own thing right now. We're thinking about the team first and the coaching second."