North Carolina Tight End Joins Illini

The Fighting Illini football team has now received a commitment from their fourth commitment within the past six days. Tight end Daniel Rhodes visited campus last week and made a quick decision to join the Illini. The North Carolina standout becomes the 10th prospect to commit for the 2011 recruiting class.

Daniel Rhodes knew what he wanted, so there was no need for further delay.

"When I visited the school last Thursday and talked to the coaching staff and saw the facilities, I had a good feeling it would be a good place for me to go to school and play football."

The tight end from perennial powerhouse Independence High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, had a quick but informative one day visit.

"I toured the football facility and football field, talked with some players and the coaching staff. And I talked to the academic counselor and took a trip around campus."

New assistant coach Chip Long has made a quick impression on Illinois recruiting after being on staff less than a month.

"My recruiting coach is Coach Long actually. I had talked to Coach (Paul) Petrino and Coach (Ron) Zook before I talked to Coach Long."

Rhodes grabbed fifteen passes for Independence as a junior, but it appears the Illini want him to bolster their blocking.

"My best quality as a tight end is my run blocking ability. I can help out a lot in the run blocking game and the pass blocking game. I feel like I can be a threat in the passing game also."

It took the 6'-3", 250 pounder a moment of thought before deciding what part of his game he might wish to improve.

"I guess be more physical off the line and be more active in the passing game."

On a more personal level, the future Psychology major has high goals.

"I want to improve my grades. They're good grades, I just want to go higher. And I'm working to make myself a better player and a better person."

Zook recruited quarterback Chris Leake for Florida out of Independence, but Leake's coach has moved to a job in South Carolina. That hasn't stopped the team from competing for state championships yearly.

"We made it to the final round of the state playoffs last year. We lost the state championship game to Butler High School."

Despite some changes, Rhodes expects at least that good a result this fall.

"I feel like we're gonna do pretty good this year. We have a new offensive coordinator and new offense, so it will take awhile to put the pieces together. But I feel like we will go a long way."

Other schools were eager to see how he performed this fall, but now they won't need to bother.

"Illinois is the only one that has offered me a scholarship, but others looking at me included North Carolina, North Carolina State, University of South Florida, Cincinnati, Syracuse and Duke. My decision is final."

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