Illinois Football: Crystal Ball Prediction favors Illini for 4-star wide receiver

It looks like the Illinois football team is close to landing one of the best wide receivers still available.

The class of 2023 had started off well for the Illini. We currently have 16 commitments and rank No. 58 in the nation. That isn’t a bad position to be in by any means. With roughly nine slots open for 2023, Bret Bielema and his coaching staff have some pretty big targets still left on the board.

It hasn’t been the easiest road for Bielema, though. He took over a struggling Illinois program, so the top recruits were hesitant about pledging to the Orange and Blue. Thankfully, Kaden Feagin was the first domino to fall. He is a four-star in-state recruit who will be a tremendous running back for the Illini. But could Illinois be in line for another four-star in-state recruit?

In the first few months Bielema was the head coach of the Illini, one of the big scholarships he extended was to wide receiver Malik Elzy. A four-star Chicago recruit who is the No. 297 player in the class of 2023, Elzy was wanted by the entire country, so it was going to be hard for Illinois to get seriously involved.

Elzy would end up taking an unofficial visit to Champaign. He then made the trip down for junior day. Illinois’ new coaching staff was making inroads on the Elzy recruitment. The Illini would then get one of the two official visits Elzy took back in June. The other was to a Cincinnati program that just had a remarkable run to the College Football Playoff.

In July, Elzy decided to make a commitment. That commitment wasn’t Illinois, though. He picked the Bearcats. This one hurt. I got my hopes up and they were dashed. But those hopes are now rising again.

On Tuesday, Elzy decided to back away from his commitment to Cincinnati. This was huge news considering Illinois was the No. 2 option for his commitment back in July. On top of Elzy reopening his recruitment, there have been three Crystal Ball Predictions submitted for him in favor of Illinois. All three give the Illini a six out of 10.

Malik Elzy would give Illinois football a dynamic offense in 2023 and beyond.

I am already pretty impressed with what the Illinois offensive looks like in 2022. Tommy DeVito has been a breath of fresh air at quarterback. Chase Brown is a Heisman Trophy candidate. And we have playmakers on the outside.

Now I am thinking about the future. I think Bielema is going to go after another graduate transfer quarterback in the transfer portal this spring and summer. That would give Donovan Leary more time to develop.

Illinois would then get back Shawn Miller, a top 800 wide receiver from the 2022 class, next year. He would add to a wide receiver corps that features an electric Isaiah Williams and a future first-team All-Big Ten pass catcher in Pat Bryant, to name a few.

Adding a 6-foot-3, 198-pound Elzy to the mix would put the Illinois offensive over the top. He’s that guy. Elzy could easily be in the pantheon of Arrelious Benn and AJ Jenkins as an all-time great wide receiver for the Illini.

I am really hoping these Crystal Ball Predictions come true. Elzy is a game-changer for Illinois football recruiting. He would automatically make the Illinois class of 2023 into a top 50 group in the country.