The Illinois football program is on the rise in the recruiting world. After securing two top 100 National players in Isaiah Williams and Marquez Beason, Illinois has its eyes set on top 300 four star tight end Jahleel Billingsley from Chicago Phillips. Make no mistake, he is a difference maker and the top priority for 2019 right now.
The staff has a plethora of options with Caleb Reams and Louis Dorsey but Billingsley brings pass catching and blocking to a position that demands both. A physical specimen at 6’5 230 pounds, Jahleel would make an immediate impact. Jahleel hasnt said much about his recruitment, but I did speak with his father Charles over the weekend about his Sons recruitment.
In his words with Charles Billingsley
Its always important to get a sense of how the parent’s feel about programs. I asked Charles his thought on Lovie Smith’s program and the current recruiting momentum for Illinois.
He told me “We as a family feel good about illinois, meaning his situation if he decides to go there is really good. I’m sure he will be an impact player with immediate playing time. Thats always a plus. Pretty much what matters is is winning on the field and getting a quality education and building as many positive relationships as possible in a great college environment.”
About the recent recruiting success he told me “I really like the addition of the M.J. Rivers enrolling in june. I think hes gonna be an impact player along with the 2019 guys like beason and williams. But its gonna take a few years, I just hope the guys can endure the struggle before the success. The coaching staff there will do an awesome job, they just need the players.”
Jahleel posted a top 7 recently which included Illinois. I wanted to know his future visit plans and whose been recruiting him the hardest. Charles told me “Illinois sits really high on his list. We plan on taking visits to Ohio State and Penn State in may. Florida has been making its presence felt as well. We do plan on going down to Champaign again in a couple weeks, getting more acquainted with the team and get a better feel for the campus. Jahleel has really bonded with coach Patterson.”
My final question was about a decision time frame and if they believe Illinois will win?
Charles told me “Right now Jahleel is feeling his way through the process. He still has some time. And yes, we believe Illinois will win on the field. The staff is full of football greats who have won coaching and on the field. Distance will play a big part as well.”
Illinois is competing with powerhouse programs in this recruitment. Normally in past years that would make me doubt its chances. Things have changed though, kids and parent’s believe in what Lovie is building. The staff has really worked hard on making Jahleel a Priority. The belief this program will win and its coaching experience can help kids succeed and win to get to the NFL is a big deal.
Illinois also picked up a commitment from Jahleel teammate Joseph Thompson and lead for Fabian Mccray. These three Chicago Phillips studs would like to play together. Landing Beason and Williams has made it easier to land players like Billingsley. Ive said it for a few weeks now, I feel its a matter of time before the Illini land another big fish. Jahleel Billingsley will be that fish. Charles believes in the program and while anything can happen in Columbus or Happy Valley, Jahleel is Illinois to lose.