A big official visit weekend is bearing fruit for the Illinois football team.
We saw 13 recruits visit Champaign this past weekend in what was the first big recruiting visit weekend from the class of 2023. Convincing these talented players that Illinois is the place to be is goal No. 1 for Bret Bielema and his coaching staff this offseason.
So far, things seem to have gone pretty well in accomplishing this goal. One of the players who was a part of the official visit festivities was Jamarrion Harkless. Harkless liked the Illini program so much that, on Sunday night, he decided to end his recruitment and commit to the Orange and Blue.
This is a big pledge for the Illinois football program. Harkless is a 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive lineman from Frederick Douglas High School and resides in Lexington, Kentucky. He is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 821 player in the class of 2023. Harkless is also the No. 97 defensive lineman in the country and the No. 10 player coming out of Kentucky.
Illinois football landing Jamarrion Harkless was a bit of a surprise.
Coming into a big recruiting weekend like Illinois just had, there are players who are taking an official visit but you think they will ultimately end up somewhere else. Honestly, I thought that about Harkless.
The list of scholarship offers Harkless has on the board right now is impressive. He was also scheduled to take an official visit to Louisville in a couple of weeks. With a visit to a school in your home state and offers from teams like Auburn, Georgia, Cincinnati, and LSU, one would naturally think Illinois might not land this kid despite an official visit.
But the pitch was clearly amazing. Bielema and his coaching staff did a great job showing Harkless that Illinois can develop him into a star and future NFL player.
I truly believe that is what Bielema can do with Harkless’ career as well. This kid is a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, and his power is absolutely impressive already. The presence Harkless has in the middle of the defensive line completely changes the game. He reminds me a lot of what Akiem Hicks did with the Chicago Bears the last few years.
Illinois is getting a disrupter and a big-time run stopper with Harkless. We just landed this kid, who I believe is massively underrated, over numerous top SEC programs. That is impressive recruiting power, and I can’t wait to see what Harkless can do on the football field.