The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Newtown (Pa.) Council Rock South quarterback said the offer was a nice surprise.
"The rest of the group was going on a tour, and one of the assistants told me I was going to have a short meeting with [Penn State head coach James] Franklin," McIlwain said. "We just got started talking for a little, and it was awesome.
"He said he saw my tape, and he wanted to recruit the best players in the state. He said he really like my tape, and that they thought I was a good enough player to play there, with my academics and my grades and the way I perform."
McIlwain started his day at University Park with a meet and greet with assistants. The group then moved along to a presentation about Penn State and what it has to offer on the gridiron and academically.
From there, the group toured campus and stopped at the men's hockey game at Pegula Ice Arena. The final stop of the day was at Beaver Stadium, where the prospects in attendance locked arms, four-wide, and walked through the south end zone gates to conclude the day.
"It was a really good time," McIlwain said. "Coach Franklin just said he believes that I would be good for Penn State. The stadium … it was still covered in snow, but it was beautiful. You could just see how beautiful the stadium is."
McIlwain also spent time chatting with Lions' quarterback coach Ricky Rahne. In fact, he talked to a host of assistants to gain an idea of the differences between Penn State's old staff and its new one.
"I got to talk to him a lot," McIlwain said of Rahne. "I got to go to a little meeting, and he broke down some of the things they did at Vanderbilt that will transfer over to Penn State.
"The real big difference was the philosophy that Coach Franklin has. Both coach Franklin and [former head coach Bill] O'Brien had a bunch of energy, but Coach Franklin emphasizes the family thing, and how important it is to him."
McIlwain said he will early enroll at the college of his choice, and hopes to have a school selected before his senior season.
"I just think it's a great opportunity to start early and get started with the academics," McIlwain said. "I've seen kids do it and have talked to people that have done it, and I've just see how much it helps get ready academically before you have to start getting ready, learning the offense, and all that kind of stuff."