Illinois football could always use more linebacker help, and that is what we received on Sunday night.
The Illini had a ton of positive momentum this past weekend. A variety of recruits took to Champaign for one of their five official visits. These players had a chance to see what the program had to offer, and some liked it so much that they decided to commit.
It all started with Demetrius John. The 6-foot-4 defensive lineman took his third visit overall to Illinois, and this was his final stop, as he pledged his commitment to the Illinois football program on Sunday night. The Orange and Blue weren’t stopped there, though.
Adding a player like John was big for the Illinois defense. He is going to do wonders for the front seven. But the Illini went ahead and added another player to the defensive side of the ball.
On Sunday night, Easton Baker followed John and committed to the Illini. His pledge was a great recruiting win for Bret Bielema and the Illinois coaching staff.
Illinois football linebacker depth just got stronger with a commitment from Easton Baker
Baker is a 6-foot-1, 212-pound linebacker from Stansbury High School in Utah. He is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 1186 player in the class of 2024. He is also the No. 107 linebacker in the country and the No. 12 player coming out of Utah.
This was not an easy recruitment to win. Illinois was able to secure Baker’s commitment over teams like Oklahoma, BYU, and Arizona State. He does still have an official visit set up next weekend to see what the Sooners program is all about.
When you have a team like Oklahoma also vying for a commitment, you know that the player has elite-level talent. Illinois secured a commitment from a linebacker who will likely be starting in the next couple of years.
The inside linebacker position is kind of weak right now. I like what we have in Tarique Barnes entering 2023, but he is done after this season. Behind Barnes, there is a bunch of talented but inexperienced players.
I fully expect Baker to come into the program in 2024 and compete for the starting job from day one. He is going to see snaps as a freshman. I think, at worst, he probably starts as a true sophomore in 2025.
Baker was a great addition to the Illinois family. Look for him to blossom in Champaign and become one of those linebackers we talk about for years to come.