Friend, a rising junior, joined the rest of Illinois' elite football players, as well as Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, the guest speaker, and Northwestern coaches, including Pat Fitzgerald, among a number of other college coaches.
"To be around those guys and asked to be there, I felt like I accomplished something," said Friend. "It felt good to be there."
Fitzgerald did not speak to the audience at the banquet, but Friend has heard Northwestern's head coach speak already. Friend attended NU's game with Minnesota, and prior to the game Fitzgerald spoke to the recruits who visited that day.
"I thought his speech to us was amazing," said Friend. "It made me want to go play football instead of just sitting there."
Being from the Chicago-area and having relatives who have attended Northwestern, Friend had pre-existing appreciation for the Wildcats. However, Friend is looking for the best fit academically, and is impressed with NU's academic prestige.
"If I got a degree from Northwestern, that would open up doors that nothing else could," Friend said.
With his size, Friend has made a name for himself as a forward on the Morris basketball team during the offseason. When that season ends, Friend shifts his focus to track season, while balancing in football workouts all throughout the offseason.
Friend sees himself as a potential weapon for any college offense. He offers a number of skills in his game.
"(I am) a big target," he said. "I like to think I got pretty good hands, and I got enough speed to get downfield. I'm a pretty good blocker. If (a college) decides to have a tight end come block, I can do that."
The talented tight end doesn't ask for much in the right fit. He just wants to make an impact at the college level.
"I want to play and help the team however I can," Friend said. "I'm looking for a great college atmosphere and basically that's it."