It is that time of year when recruits have second and third thoughts, and the Illinois football program is not immune to this.
Entering Tuesday, the Illini had 19 commitments and sat comfortably inside the top 50 in the national recruiting ranking for the class of 2024. Things have been going pretty well for the Orange and Blue when it comes to recruiting as well.
In the last month, Bret Bielema and the Illinois coaching staff were able to land top-200 recruit Andrew Dennis. He is a talented interior offensive lineman who will see snaps from day one.
While things have been sunshine and rainbows for the most part, sometimes a recruit does back away from their commitment. That happened to the Illini on Tuesday.
Illinois commit Karsen Konkel announced on social media that he has decided to reopen his recruitment. He is a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 824 player in the class of 2024. Konkel is also the No. 43 tight end in the country and the No. 20 player coming out of Illinois.
This decision isn’t a shocker. A reopening of a recruitment should not come as a surprise to anyone this time of year. Konkel was offered by Illinois back in April 2023. He took an official visit the weekend of June 9. Konkel then committed to the Illini on June 21. Now the in-state tight end is looking for a new home.
Illinois football still has plenty of depth at the tight end position heading into the 2024 season
I always hate losing a player after they have been committed for months. But, honestly, Konkel backing away does make sense. Tight end is a position that Illinois is actually pretty strong in right now.
Tip Reiman has departed the program and is heading to the NFL. That loss hurt the Illini. I do like what we have coming up behind Reiman, though.
Griffin Moore showed some promise in 2023, and he will be a senior next season. Owen Anderson and Henry Boyer are both ready to take the next step. They are entering their redshirt sophomore seasons. Illinois received transfer Tanner Arkin this past offseason. He is another nice piece to the puzzle.
I will also be curious to see what young guy steps up in 2024. Nathan Guinn came in from the class of 2023. He should have a chance to see snaps. Illinois is bringing in Tanner Hollinger from the 2024 class as well.
There is a lot of talent at the tight end position for the Illini. It wouldn’t shock me to see Bielema go into the transfer portal and potentially pull out another pass-catching big man too.
I wish Konkel nothing but the best, but at least this departure is at a position where Illinois can afford to lose a player. Let’s see what Bielema’s next move is after this minor setback.