Illinois Football: Illini first in on future superstar Wisconsin linebacker

The Illinois football team is focusing on the future with one of their latest scholarship offers.

The state of Wisconsin hasn’t been the nicest to the Illini over the years when it comes to recruiting. We tend to not get a ton of talent from this area, but Bret Bielema has been trying to buck that trend.

Bielema was able to snag talented offensive lineman Joey Okla from Wisconsin in the class of 2022. He was the lone Wisconsin commitment from that class. So far, we don’t have a single player from the state of Wisconsin committed for 2023, though.

On Saturday, Bielema laid the groundwork to land future Wisconsin players. Illinois ended up extending a scholarship offer to Cooper Catalano. He is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound linebacker from Germantown High School and resides in Germantown, Wisconsin. He isn’t rated or ranked just yet, but that is due to the fact he is from the class of 2025.

Bret Bielema’s previous ties might be helping Illinois football in recruiting.

It is no secret that Bielema used to coach the Wisconsin Badgers and was successful during his time up there. I would assume those ties to the state are probably still there. He knows the high school coaches and has a legacy up there, so that has to help with recruiting.

Getting in early on Catalano is a good decision as well. Catalano is just going into his sophomore year, so there is plenty of time to develop. But he is already 6-foot-2, 200-pounds, so he is probably going to be a monster when he graduates high school.


There is a lot to love about Catalano’s game even with just one year under his belt. The speed he brings to the field is impressive. No matter where he plays at linebacker, he will be able to keep up with the offensive player he is tasked with covering. I also like his speed because of pass rushing. He can get to the quarterback quickly.

The ability of Catalano to shed a blocker piques my interest. He is very smart when seeing where a run is going, and when a pull blocker gets to him, he is able to do a quick little move and get around it.

Illinois is Catalano’s first scholarship offer, but it won’t be his last. Hopefully, when the time comes, the Illini are right in the mix and will eventually land this future superstar.