Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino likes to use big running backs to pound the ball at opposing defenses. Running backs Mikel Leshoure and Jason Ford both are in the 230 pounds and have quickness and power to boot.
The Illinois running style has caught the attention of one running back in the Palmetto State, and he recently stopped in to see just how things were done at Illinois.
Brandon Wilds, a 6'1", 225 pound running back from Blythewood, South Carolina, has kept an eye on Illinois for some time now and has stayed in strong contact with coach Ron West. Wilds this weekend had a chance to watch the Illini in action as they practiced at Camp Rantoul.
"It was a good visit, I enjoyed myself while I was there. I went to see Camp Rantoul and spoke with Coach (Ron) Zook, Coach West, and Coach (DeAndre) Smith. Then I got to tour the school and saw the weight room, the offices, the stadium, and the locker room. The best part was just camp and seeing some of the workouts and the players in action."
Wilds, whose goal is to decide on a college by August 20th, got a chance to interact with many of the players, including the starting quarterback.
"I got to talk to Nathan Scheelhaase. He said they could really use a running back like me in their offense."
Wilds gave the visit high marks.
"On a scale of one to ten I'd say it was probably a nine."
Wilds says his connection with his future coaches is something he really values, and the Illinois coaches have maintained a very strong relationship with Wilds thus far.
"My connection with my coaches is important. Growing up I always had a good vibe with all my coaches. Coach West is a nice guy. He stays in contact and emails me all the time."
Wilds also talks to another Illinois target, linebacker Ralph Cooper. The two often meet at camps and have discussed their future plans with each other on occasion.
"Ralph and I talk pretty often, we see each other at combines. He and I talk about the possibility of going together. He said he's coming up for the Ohio State game, and I think I am too."
Wilds takes pride in being a big back. His physical running style makes him a threat to any defense. But he also has a well-rounded game and can be a threat in the passing game as well.
"I look up to Adrian Peterson because he's a big back too. My catching ability is underrated. A lot of people think a big back can't catch."
One thing is certain, Wilds would be a big catch for the Illini, who need a big back for the future.