Illinois Football: Top 10 states for Illini recruiting under Bret Bielema

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 29: Head coach Bret Bielema of the Illinois Fighting Illini leads the team on the field before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 29: Head coach Bret Bielema of the Illinois Fighting Illini leads the team on the field before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
10 of 10
Next
Illinois football
CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 02: The Illinois Fighting Illini helmet on the field after a win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium on November 02, 2019 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

No. 1 Illinois

The biggest and best state for Illinois to recruit during the Bret Bielema era is the state of Illinois. This is the way it should be. Illinois should pull most of their recruits from the state of Illinois.

Highest Rated Player: Malik Elzy

The Illinois football program had to fight for Elzy. He was once committed to Cincinnati but backed away from that commitment in the middle of last season. Illinois pounced and was able to pull Elzy away from a potential commitment to Wisconsin.

Elzy is a 6-foot-2, 204-pound wide receiver from Simeon High School in Illinois. He is rated as a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 225 player in the class of 2023. He is also the No. 33 wide receiver in the country and the No. 4 player coming out of the state of Illinois.

I see Elzy coming into the Illinois program and being one of the go-to targets from day one. While he might not start, he will be the first player off the bench as a sub. By 2024, Elzy will be featured as a starter for the program.

Additional Talent

Illinois has been the most lucrative state for recruiting. We have landed 27 in-state recruits over the past three recruiting classes. Most of these recruits came from the class of 2022 and 2023, though.

Along with Elzy, Illinois also brought in four-star Kaden Feagin. He is a running back who will contend for the starting job from day one. Locking in two four-star in-state recruits is something that I haven’t seen Illinois accomplish in quite some time.

Illinois also landed top 1000 offensive lineman Brandon Henderson from the class of 2023. I expect him to be a starter in the next couple of years. He has potential through the roof.

The class of 2022 brought in three top 1000 in-state recruits. All three redshirted in 2022, and I look forward to seeing them emerge as big pieces this season. Jared Badie is going to help on the defense tremendously, and Aidan Laughery and Eian Pugh give the Illinois offense more depth.

A sneaky in-state player is Josh Kreutz from the class of 2021. I think there is a legit shot he starts at center for the Illini this season.

The state of Illinois is and should always be the main recruiting hub for the program. Bret Bielema got us back to recruiting well in-state once again.

Next. Top 10 NFL careers by an Illinois football player. dark