Illinois Football: Illini eyeing speedy running back in class of 2024

Illinois football is now targeting a playmaker for the backfield in 2024.

The Illini just had one of the greatest running backs in the history of the program depart for the NFL. We will miss Chase Brown greatly, and he will not be an easy player to replace.

Bret Bielema and the Illinois coaching staff know that depth is the name of the game, though. Building out the running back room is extremely important due to attrition and injuries. That is why snagging someone like Ca’lil Valentine would be a big deal.

Valentine is a 6-foot, 175-pound, running back from Chandler High School in Arizona. He is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 353 player in the class of 2024. He is also the No. 32 running back in the country and the No. 8 player coming out of Arizona.

Early Wednesday morning, Valentine took to social media to announce that he had received a scholarship offer from the Illini. We now join roughly 16 other programs in the fight to land this talented ball carrier.

Illinois football is trying to build a legendry backfield by adding running back Ca’lil Valentine from the class of 2024

I am impressed with what Bielema has done with the Illinois offense, especially the running back room. I am comfortable going three or four deep at running back in 2023.

A great thing about the running backs on the roster right now is the fact they could all be back in 2024 as well. Reggie Love III is the oldest, and he is a junior this season.

If Valentine picked Illinois, he would be another top 700 recruit joining the program in the backfield. Love came in from the 2020 class, and he was the No. 429 player that year. Aidan Laughery joined in 2022, and he was the No. 651 player in that class. And then you have Kaden Feagin, who is coming in from the class of 2023 and is the No. 377 player in the country.

Valentine would have a chance to join this talented group of running backs and compete for snaps. With what he brings to the table, it wouldn’t shock me to see him get time early on in his career.

The speed that Valentine hits holes with is impressive. As soon as he sees an opening, he is through it and into the open field. Valentine doesn’t go down easily either. He has a great ability to bounce off a defender and get more yards.

This is a great offer by Illinois. Hopefully, we can get in this recruitment and eventually land this kid. Valentine is a big-time playmaker with his speed.