Jacksonville's Raines High School produces talent year after year, with some of its notable alumni being Notre Dame's Louis Nix and former Illini Donsay Hardeman. One player who is working hard to keep Raines on the map is wide receiver Isaiah Stallings.
In terms of size at 6'2" and 175 pounds, he fits the mold for a Paul Petrino wide receiver. And has the skill set to match.
"I would say I'm a sure-hands receiver. I go get the deep ball every now and then but usually I'm just a possession receiver. I run good routes. I get separation on my routes. I can jump (33" vertical). My height helps out right now. I can read defenses pretty well too."
With quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase looking to find targets across the middle in the new offense, having a sure-handed receiver like Stallings would give him some options in the passing game.
Stallings does admit that he needs some work in the running game, however.
"I need to work on my (max) speed and be more aggressive in the running game with blocking."
Despite it not being his strong suit, Stallings does say that he surprises people with his ability to go get a deep ball.
"The deep offense, my ability to go and get it. Most of my highlights are just short, 15 yard or so, passes."
Team unity is a theme among the Raines players according to Stallings, who says their camaraderie extends far beyond the field of play.
"We keep our team together on the weekends. Sam Smiley and I work out together and involve some of the guys that need more work. We just all talk and develop talent and develop players' games."
Stallings develops himself because he knows he'll be playing on the next level, and just like everyone else, he has his priorities in line for what he wants in a college.
"The prestige, academics, and of course a great football team. Great coaching and a good relationship with the coaches are important. Location is big but ultimately it's where I fit best."
Already, Stallings has plenty of options for college. So far he has heard from Illinois, Florida, Stanford, Alabama State, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State, Ole Miss, USF, Rutgers and Tennessee St. Of those Illinois, Florida, and Vanderbilt stand out to him. He always keeps in mind his first offer.
"First of all, it (Illinois) was my first offer, and my connection with Coach Disch and how he came out here and knows a lot of our former players. I'll be taking an official visit to find out more later on. Sam (Smiley) and I are going to take our visit together. It'll probably be later in the season."
As mentioned before, Stallings is a true team player for his high school, and it's something he'll continue in college.
"Just coming in and playing my part and going and getting the first down or going deep and getting that too. Whatever I need to do."
He does plan on taking some time with his decision to ensure he makes the right one.
"I really don't know yet. I'm going to wait the season out rather than make an early commitment, probably waiting until signing day."
One thing is certain, the Illini are in good standing with him and will be right there when he decides.