"I would say Michigan State is really on my radar," he says. "They're definitely in my top two or three. I'm really thinking about Michigan State."
Buckner got some love in East Lansing a few weeks ago on a junior day and plans to come back a few more times, one on an official visit.
"When I went down there they showed me great attention, so that's what really moved me about Michigan State," he says. "I love the overall atmosphere."
With the MSU staff's emphasis on teamwork when it comes to recruiting, Buckner has met a few of the coaches and one has stood out in particular.
"I really like coach Roushar, the offensive lineman coach," he says. "He came to Chicago and he was recruiting me and he really caught my eye.
"I also have a buddy, Arthur Ray, at MSU," he notes. "He's one of my good friends and he tells me great things about Michigan State."
Buckner has met coach Mark Dantonio only briefly, but says he comes across as a good man and looks forward to continued conversations. "From the little that I know of, he's a great man and he's trying to rebuild a team that can win a championship."
In the recruiting game, the only thing official is the Letter of Intent. A verbal commitment is tenuous at best.
"I see a verbal commit as — it's definitely an interest in the school I want to attend," he says.
None of this is on the sly, either; Illinois is well aware of other programs taking interest.
"Yeah, of course, I have talked to them about that. They know. They say I should make the best decision for me," he says.
Buckner's teammate and good friend, 4-star offensive lineman Leon Hill, is also committed to Illinois with an asterisk.
"We talk about that," Buckner says. "He has the same mindset as me, so he's looking at other schools."
And, no surprise, one of those schools is Michigan State.
Stay tuned: Tomorrow, GSN checks in with Leon Hill and finds out how much he's interested in Michigan State.