Buckner Has Three in Mind

GSN caught up with the 12th ranked defensive tackle, a soft Illinois verbal, and talked about his relationship with Spartan coaches, where he plans on taking official visits and when a firm decision might be made.

It's been a fairly laid back summer, Lendell Buckner told GSN yesterday.

The 4-star defensive tackle took time to camp at only one school, Illinois, but that doesn't mean others have fallen by the wayside.

Buckner said his verbal to Illinois is admittedly soft and he's still looking to find out more about other programs. He even has a tentative list of schools set for official visits this fall.

"Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and probably LSU, or Arizona," Buckner said.

When it comes to favorites, though, Buckner said his list is a bit more selective.

"I really have a top-three," he clarified. "The top-three is probably, you know, Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin. I don't really have a top-five yet."

MSU remains in the forefront of his mind mostly because of the relationships he has established with the coaching staff on unofficial visits.

"Well, it's just a great place. Coach Roushar and coach Dantonio made me feel at home," Buckner said of the Spartan offensive line and head coaches. "It's just a great atmosphere and a really great place to play.

"It's really family oriented, so you know you can hold onto friends longer. It's more than just football."

While his verbal to UI puts the Illini in the catbirds seat, Buckner isn't shy about letting his availability be known. So when might he firm things up in terms of a verbal? Will he be "soft" all the way to signing day?

"No," he said. "I don't want to have to deal with, you know, January and February, ironing the wrinkles out, I want to know beforehand."

A decision is likely to come after some official visits, to wherever he feels most comfortable.

And that might mean he and good friend Leon Hill won't end up in the same uniform at the next level. Buckner said the pair committed to Illinois together because they liked the coaching staff, but they are not locked at the hip.

"It would be nice (to go to the same school as Hill), but that's not the plan," Buckner said, "But, hey, if it does work out like that, it'd be great."

When it comes down to it, Buckner plans on making his own decision in terms of what's best for himself.

"Right, right, I wouldn't go off anybody else, you know, I go off me, what I feel," he said.

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