Illinois Football: Crystal Ball has Illini landing big in-state wide receiver

Illinois football seems to be making up some ground on a once lost in-state recruit.

It has been beaten into the ground that the previous Illini coaching regime wasn’t good in the recruiting department. Regular recruiting was a struggle and in-state recruit was nearly nonexistent. But this is a new era of Illinois football. This is the Bret Bielema era.

Bielema’s staff has hit the ground running and is recruiting at a level Illinois fans haven’t seen since the beginning of the Ron Zook days. But, even with the strong recruiting presence, there were a few in-state recruits who were already committed to other programs. One of those recruits was Eian Pugh.

Pugh, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound wide receiver, hails from Oak Park, Illinois and attends Fenwick High School. He is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 700 player in the class of 2022. He is also the No. 95 wide receiver in the nation and the No. 13 player coming out of the state of Illinois.

Back on December 25, 2020, Pugh decided to commit to the Cincinnati Bearcats. This was a blow to the Illini at the time, but the Orange and Blue were in the process of hiring their future head coach. On March 4, Illinois came in with an offer to Pugh. This was just the beginning of a building relationship.

Pugh would then set up three official visits. He visited the Illini on June 4. He then had a visit to Cincinnati on June 18. His next visit is Iowa on June 25. Pugh just finished up his visit with Cincinnati this past weekend, but after the visit, his recruitment took a turn.

On Monday, Pugh decided to reopen his recruitment after his Bearcats visit. He is now back on the recruiting market looking for a new home. It looks like that new home just might be Champaign.

Illini Inquirer came in with not one but two Crystal Ball predictions that Illinois will land Pugh. Both predictions have a confidence of a seven out of 10, which usually means it is going to happen. This would be a huge addition to the program.

Illinois football has to get through the Iowa visit.

Even with multiple predictions for the Illini to land Pugh, he still has an official visit scheduled with Iowa this weekend. Illinois needs to get through that official visit before I have confidence we can land this kid.

Iowa has a lot of recruiting power in the state of Illinois. They have been known to pluck out some of the top talent. The recruitment of Pugh will show me what pull Bielema has as a head coach. So far, during his tenure at Illinois, this is the biggest recruiting battle for Bielema. I believe it is important for him to come out on top.

Hopefully, Illinois is able to close the deal and bring Pugh onboard. He is a big-time target and someone who can take the top off a defense. Let’s build this program into a powerhouse.