Illinois football has a long history of great kickers, and we seem to be close to adding another potential star for 2023.
The history is rich when it comes to Illini kickers. Neil Rackers was one of the best legs in the NFL for nearly a decade with the Arizona Cardinals. He even made a Pro Bowl appearance in 2005. Chase McLaughlin has been in the NFL for three years now and has kicked for numerous franchises.
The list could go on, but you get the point. Illinois produces some great talent who can kick the ball. Keeping that pipeline going is important. I want a great kicker now and for the foreseeable future. That is why potentially landing David Olano would be big for the program.
Olano is a 5-foot-10, 160-pound kicker from Naperville North High School and resides in Naperville, Illinois. He isn’t rated or ranked in the class of 2023 by 247Sports, but they don’t rate or rank kickers often. There is only one kicker who does have a rating or ranking.
The recruiting attention is there for Olano. He has an offer from Air Force, but he also has numerous teams eyeing him like Minnesota, Alabama, and Indiana, to name a few. Illinois is also big on Olano, and the pursuit of the talented kicker is heating up.
Illinois football is a favorite to land one of the best kickers available from the class of 2023.
On Thursday, Olano announced that he would be taking an official visit to Champaign this weekend. About 24 hours later, on the trip to Illinois, Olano then announced that the Illini had extended him a scholarship offer.
All of this recruiting action is big news for the Orange and Blue, but so is the fact it looks like we are now favorites to land Olano. Just yesterday, Jeremy Werner of 247Sports put in a Crystal Ball Prediction for Olano. Werner has Illinois as the favorite to land him at an eight out of 10 confidence. To me, that means this is a near-lock for the Illini.
Some people might read this and think what is the big deal, he’s just a kicker. This isn’t just some kicker off the streets, though. This is a high-level talented kid. Olano is one of the best in the country.
According to Kohl’s Professional Camps, which is usually the gauge on kickers and punters, Olano is a five-star kicker. In his write-up on the website, they mention that Olano made all of his field goals, but the one line that stuck out to me was the following.
"“Olano should be one of the top kickers in the 2023 class.”"
That is some high praise. But they weren’t the only major outlet giving Olano high praise. He accepted an invitation to the Adidas All-American Bowl that is set to take place on January 7, 2023. This is one of the best high school all-star games in the country.
Bret Bielema isn’t just focusing on one area of the Illinois football program. He is building this team with all three phases of the game. Adding a player like Olano would be huge for the Illini.