Rising 2026 wide receiver draws interest from the Illinois football program

Illinois football head coach Bret Bielema and staff are in early on the recruitment of a very talented in-state 2026 wide receiver, whose recruitment is only going to heat up as he continues torching opposing defenses
Wisconsin v Illinois
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2026 three-star ATH Zach Washington announced on X this week that he has received an offer from the Illinois football program.

Washington is a 6-foot-2, 175-pound WR/DB out of St. Francis High School in Wheaton, IL. During his sophomore season with the Spartans, the Illini prospect was pretty much doing it all – playing both sides of the ball. On the offensive side of the ball, he finished the 2023-24 season second on the team in both total touchdowns (11) and receiving yards per game (64.8).

On the flip side, Washington led the Spartans five interceptions with 86 return yards.

What type of player would the Illinois football team be getting in Zachary Washington?

Bret Bielema and the Illini coaching staff would be getting a gift, to say the least. Watching Washington's sophomore season film, many things stood out to me. He crosses off many checkmarks on traits you look for in a wide receiver. He is a crisp route runner, he is more than capable of shedding defenders and breaking tackles, he fights for extra yards – keeping the play alive.

The biggest traits that stuck out to me, however, were Washington's speed and his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. There were several plays where he was well past the secondary within three seconds of the ball being snapped, leading to a big play.

According to Washington's social media, his impressive 2023 season earned him Chicago Catholic League Orange First Team All-Conference and 2023 DuPage County All-Area Team honors.

Aside from the Illini, the Illinois native has six other offers from schools including Kent State, Miami, and Wisconsin.

Washington has the potential to be an absolute nightmare for opposing power-five defense. Keep in mind that he is only a sophomore, so he will only get better from here.

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