A name that has jumped out of nowhere for many Illini football fans is Reuben Unije. A consensus top 250 OL nationally who stands 6’5 and 300 pounds. He had been assumed to be an Oklahoma commit once he took is lone Official visit to Norman over a month ago. Reuben never pulled the trigger and that left the door open for other teams. Tennessee had recruited him hard but the firing of Butch Jones has ruled them out. You might ask yourself- “How does Illinois fit in this equation for such a high profile Lineman?.” To put it plains and simple, Illinois deep and lengthy NFL coaching staff experience. I caught up with Reuben over the weekend to discuss his upcoming visit and what he will be looking for on his trip.

In his words with Reuben Unije

Illinois is looking to finish out the 2018 class just as strong as they did last year. Getting Reuben Unije would more than help put Illinois in the right direction. I wanted to know what caught his eye about the Illinois program and why he is making the trip this weekend.

“Honestly the Illinois coaching staff is the main reason I’m coming this weekend. They have done a great job developing young players. They have five freshman on the All Big Ten freshman team, that says a lot. My goal is to make it to the NFL and the coaches at Illinois know what it takes to get there. I also saw they had a few Offensive Lineman on the honorable mention team as well.”

Illinois being 2-10 is an eye sore to most, I asked him how that looks to recruits or if they can see deeper into what Lovie is trying to build.

“They played a lot of young players. It takes a while to rebuild a program. This coaching staff knows what they are doing. I have been talking to coach Butkus often. I am excited to get to Champaign and see the vision for the program in person. My teammate Verdis Brown is really high on the staff and the future of the program. A lot of guys at IMG like them as well. I know Coach Abraham as well when he used to coach here.”

Reuben will be an early enrolle in a couple weeks. Dec 20-22 is the early signing period, so the next few weeks are critical. I asked him what he has in store after the Illinois visit. His answer might suprise some people.

“Oregon really wants me to come out and see them. I don’t have anything else planned right now. If I really like campus and the visit goes well, this could be my final official visit.”

Swami’s Take

Reuben Unije is an athletic Big man who moves really well. It would be hard not to see him starting next season if he chooses Illinois. Verdis Brown will be making his decision on Dec 22nd and things are looking good for Illinois at the moment with Brown. That will help Illinois in some instance with Unije along with the early playing time. He would be the highest rated recruit to sign with Illinois during Lovie tenure to date. Kids believe in what Lovie is building, even if fans have a hard time believing that. I got a really good vibe from my convo with Reuben, a humble and intelligent young man. If Illinois offers and shows Unije exactly what he’s looking for, he might just be playing in Champaign next fall.

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