Spring H.S. practice has started for many recruits, with Illini interest, as they look to hone their skills for the upcoming season. One high school in particular, Trinity Catholic H.S. , continues to be a hot subject in regards to Illinois football recruiting as it seems as though the Cory Patterson to Trinity Catholic H.S. connection will pay off yet again with interest from another talented recruit.
TJ Rush, like many coming out of high school, is underrated. He is a 6’0 170 lbs safety with great speed and a bit of shiftiness to his game. He is ranked as a 3* safety, the No. 9 player in the state of Missouri, the No. 23 safety Nationally, and the No. 458 overall player in the 2020 class. So far during his young recruiting process he has picked up scholarship offers from Bowling Green and Toledo and has received interest from other programs around the country such as Illinois, Iowa State, and Louisville. We sat down and spoke about what’s going on with his recruiting process.
AS: How is your recruiting process going?
TJ Rush: It’s going good. It slowed down when Coach Patterson left but it’s starting to pick back up now.
AS: What has been the most enjoyable part of your recruiting process?
TJ Rush: I have enjoyed looking at schools, not just because of football, but the academics. Seeing where I would fit in there.
AS: What are you looking for in a football program? Playing time? Close to home?
TJ Rush: A place where it feels like family and I can fit in, feel wanted, and where the education is good for me to get a degree. Close to home? Not a big factor. Mom and Pops and whoever will be at every game. And playing time? I wanna play as a true freshman, even start wherever I go, if I have the abilities to do so.
AS: What are the schools that you are most interested in?
TJ Rush: Well I got offers from Toledo and Bowling Green. I’m interested in the schools that show interest in me like Kentucky, Memphis, Mizzou, and Nebraska. And I’m really interested in Illinois but I don’t have the offer either.
AS: How’s your relationship with Coach Patterson? Does he being on the Illini staff have a big influence on your decision?
TJ Rush: That was my coach, and he helped me with everything. I can’t thank him enough and I am truly happy for him now that he is at Illinois. And if I do get that Illinois offer, it will help big time with the decision.
AS: Have you visited Champaign?
TJ Rush: Yes, twice.
AS: How was that?
TJ Rush: Great I love the atmosphere in Champaign.
AS: How much would being able to play with your Trinity brothers mean to you?
TJ Rush: It would mean a lot and it would make me feel comfortable. It’s honestly something I’m trying to do wherever I go.
AS: Switching to high school, what do you think are your strengths heading into this season? What are you looking to improve on?
TJ Rush: My strengths are my ability to cover and as a safety I can protect over the top and get to places quickly. And I can improve on my everything really. I’m not perfect and there is still work to be done.
The secondary is going to need replacing by 2020 as some players will be graduating. TJ Rush could fit the bill for this young but ferocious defense. Head Coach Lovie Smith is trying to find ways to build a team capable of competing for B1G Championships and National Championships. The programs that accomplish these goals have speed in their secondaries and adding TJ Rush will only help that.
From talking to TJ Rush, I know that he thinks very highly of the Illini and I expect him to not only pick up an Illini offer but many more during his recruitment. I also expect the Illini to be a major player for securing a commitment from him but only time will tell. If more Trinity Catholic H.S. recruits commit to the Illini, I think it will make his decision that much easier. Keep an “I” on TJ Rush!