The 2019 recruiting class for Head Coach Lovie Smith has slowly been receiving commitments. Some Illini fans argue that this process has been too slow. To that I say, “Trust the Process”.
Jacob Bandes, a 4* defensive tackle in the 2019 class, picked up an Illini offer just over a week ago. Receiving a commit from him will help strengthen an already strong defensive line for the Illini. He is 6-foot-3, 295 lbs, and a load to handle. Ranked as the 16th best overall player in California, the 6th best defensive tackle nationally, and the 89th best overall player in the 2019 class (according to 247 sports composite rankings), Bandes comes in with a big reputation. During his recruitment he has received many scholarship offers highlighted by offers from Arizona State, California, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, and UCLA. He took sometime to speak to me about his recruitment and interest in Illinois.
AS: When did you decide to play football? Why? And why did you decide to play defensive tackle?
Jacob Bandes: When I was about 7 years old, I had uncontrollable ADHD and all this pent up energy, my parents decide to put me in football and I just fell in love with the game. Playing lineman is just a thing I have done, D-Line and O-Line. I played wherever any team needed me, from nose guard, to defensive end. I just think defensive tackle is where my career is going to carry me.
AS: You have jumped in the 2019 class rankings significantly. What can you attribute that to?
Jacob Bandes: Yeah, I am the top DT on the West Coast, and the last time I checked on ESPN, I was ranked as the #4 DT in my class and #58 overall. I feel like it doesn’t give me an advantage, because you have to work hard no matter what and, since you have people who think of you as a high recruit, they expect high level work ethics, to keep your numbers high, and keep a consistent work ethic so you don’t drop in numbers.
AS: You have some great offers, which ones stand out to you?
Jacob Bandes: No schools stand out, like them all.
AS: Is/Was there ever a dream school that you wanted to play for?
Jacob Bandes: All my friends growing up loved Oregon at the time because they were a great team. So I was put into the Oregon Ducks category, and they were a team that I just loved.
AS: What are some of your strengths of your game and where can you improve the most?
Jacob Bandes: I want to improve on my IQ. Reading where the ball is going. For example, like knowing the play is going to be a stretch right.
AS: Who at Illinois have you been in contact with?
Jacob Bandes: Coach Hardy Nickerson and Coach Clark, and I have really good relationships with them both.
AS: Are you planning on visiting Champaign?
Jacob Bandes: Yes, I would love to take a visit to LittyvILLe!!!
AS: What are you looking for in a football program and school? Does Illinois fit that for you?
Jacob Bandes: I’m not the kind of person that looks for a championship contender team or playing time, I want to have a family-team and have a great relationship with everyone from the fan-base to the coaching staff.
AS: What are you looking forward to most during your final high school season?
Jacob Bandes: Being a big brother to the youngsters, I don’t care about myself, specifically like I don’t want to be leaving the team without without players I looked over and mentored. I never want to have the mentality of “looking down at the younger cats”.
Jacob Bandes is a great kid and an intelligent football player. He has the mental approach and ability to be one of the best college players that Head Coach Lovie Smith might get a chance to work with. He wants to win and wants his team to win in any shape or form.
If the Illini can land a commitment from him, they will not only be getting a great football player but in my opinion, a born leader. Judging by his interview I’d say his recruitment is wide open right now and I definitely think the staff will push hard to secure a commitment from him. He may choose to stay close to home and play on the West Coast but his recruitment should be one of great interest for all Illini fans!