Bret Bielema committed to recruiting in-state players when he took the job with the Illinois football program.
So far, Bielema has held true to his word about recruiting Illinois players. For the class of 2022, the Illini secured 11 in-state players out of the 26 commits. This was Bielema’s first recruiting class, and it was a good start to the rebuild.
Illinois is off to a quick start for the 2023 class as well. There are four players who have committed for 2023, and three out of those four commitments are from the state of Illinois. Now that the Illini have been piling up in-state recruits, I think it is fair to call this a trend.
This past Thursday, Bielema and the Illini coaching staff laid the foundation to continue the trend we are seeing with an offer to I’Marion Stewart.
Stewart is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound athlete from Bolingbrook High School and resides in Bolingbrook, Illinois. He is rated as a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 230 player in the class of 2024. Stewart is also the No. 29 athlete in the nation and the No. 4 player coming out of Illinois.
Illinois now joins a list of nearly 20 other programs that have offered Stewart a scholarship. The big question is, can the Illini keep four-star recruits home?
Bret Bielema needs to land high-level in-state recruits for the Illinois football team.
It is a challenge for Bielema to reestablish local ties and to get players to commit who play football in the state of Illinois. He has done a great job of accomplishing this goal early on, but I think it is now time to take another step forward.
I want to see Bielema land four-star in-state recruits. In the class of 2022, there were seven four-star recruits coming out of the state of Illinois, and none of those players picked the Illini. Honestly, there wasn’t a single player even thinking about our program.
Bielema has started to change that ugly trend of not landing in-state four-stars in the class of 2023. Kaden Feagin has already committed to the Illini, and he is a four-star and ranked as the No. 241 player in the nation.
In addition to Feagin, Illinois is also in the mix for other four-star in-state recruits. Miles McVay is the No. 125 player in the class of 2023, and he has an interest in the Illini. Malik Elzy is a big-time wide receiver and is the No. 318 player in 2023. He is someone who Illinois has put a lot of resources into. All of these players are four-star recruits and program changers.
Hopefully, Illinois can start piling up four-star recruits in 2023, and then by the time 2024 rolls around, players like Stewart can see that Champaign is the place to be. He is a player I want on the roster.