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) /
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CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 02: The Illinois Fighting Illini helmet on the field in the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium on November 02, 2019 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

No. 7 Wisconsin

I fully expect the state of Wisconsin to be a recruiting hub for the Illinois football team in the near future, but we haven’t started to pluck a ton of talent from this state. The player we did snag is a good one, though.

Highest Rated Player: Joey Okla

Illinois has one of the best offensive lines in college football last season. Our quarterback could throw the ball all over the field and our running back ran wild nearly every game. The big reason for that was due to the great offensive line.

After the season concluded, the Illini lost multiple members of that offensive line. While we have the pieces to plug the holes, now we need solid backups. Joey Okla is one of those backups.

Okla entered the Illinois program last season and took a redshirt. He is now entering his redshirt freshman season at 6-foot-2, 325 pounds and ready to take a primary backup role on the offensive line.

Coming out of the class of 2022, Okla was a highly-rated recruit as well. He was a three-star offensive lineman who was ranked as the No. 890 player in the class of 2022. He was also the No. 45 interior offensive lineman in the country and the No. 9 player coming out of Wisconsin.

Additional Talent

Wisconsin has only produced one recruit for the Illinois program since Bret Bielema took the reins. This is a bit of a surprise, but I think that will change in the near future.

Okla is a special talent, though. He has a chance to develop his game this season, and I fully expect him to contend for a starting job in 2024. Illinois is going to once again lose a lot of offensive line talent. This is a chance for him to shine.