Recruiting is the lifeline of any major college program, and sometimes coaches bypass the recruiting gurus and go with their instincts.|
The past two years, Illinois has finished near the bottom of the Big Ten in most defensive categories. However, according to head coach Tim Beckman, "We were very young on the defensive side of the ball; the exciting thing is they're all a year older, and some we will get back next year. Coach (Tim) Banks is really excited about the progress."
With the offense appearing to be in good shape, how is the recruiting going for Beckman and company? Illinois native Tuf Borland, a four-star linebacker from Bolingbrook, likes what he is seeing from his home-state school.
Last week, Borland's team couldn't fight off Hinsdale Central, losing 23-15, but the effort was there for the linebacker.
"I played pretty well personally; I had 15 tackles or so. We didn't play very well in my eyes. We had a lot of turnovers and 10 penalties. We can't expect to win playing like that," Borland said.
The tough defensive prospect said he has not heard much from the Illini since his visit a few weeks ago, but that doesn't change much for him.
"I'm definitely interested in Illinois. I like the atmosphere the coaches at Illinois bring each game. Plus the traveling distance from home to the campus is nice when it's time to pick a school," Borland said.
The Illini took on Youngstown State this past Saturday. Borland could not make it.
"I was able to watch most of the second half; it was a good win for them," he said.
Being a four-star recruit is an honor for any player, considering five stars as the top of the line. One can only imagine if all of the "heavy" hitters could stick around how good Illinois would be. I think a lot of kids see the past in Illinois football team instead of looking at what is in the future. I believe Illinois has the ability to become good in years to come. If most of the top players in the state would stay home, I think Illinois could be right up there talent-wise with Ohio State and Texas.
Right now Borland has two offers, Illinois and UMass, but he feels more are on their way.
"The last I was up at Michigan, they said they were really close to an offer. This weekend I'm going to the University of Wisconsin for a visit," Borland said.
As of now, Borland has a number of schools showing interest, but he's keeping all of his options open and, when the time is right, will make a decision.
Borland is hoping to get to Champaign soon for another visit.
"I don't have anything planned at the moment, but hopefully I can come back to see my high school team play anyway," Borland said.
Borland said he would like to get back down to Champaign.
"Hope soon so I don't have anything planned. Right now things are busy down there; hopefully, I will be able to come down there for a game soon," he said.
With the two offers, more schools are taking notice of his talent level. Stay tuned here with The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus for more details on the recruitment of Borland. Currently several schools are staring to pursue Borland's talents: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and N.C. State. More offers will be waiting for him.
Kedric Prince is a freelance columnist for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. Orangeandbluenews.com also contributed to this story.
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