The quest to land a fantastic 2019 recruiting class resumes as the Illini are in pursuit of JUCO inside linebacker Jashua Allen from Portland, Oregon and who currently plays at Arizona Western College. Jash has good size for his position at 6-2″ 225 lbs. He is quite quick as well which will help teams use him in blitz packages. Jash is ranked as a 4 star recruit, the 10th best JUCO player nationally, 2nd best JUCO linebacker, and the 2nd best JUCO player in Oregon.
Yesterday, Jashua narrowed down his list of schools to five schools which included Colorado, Washington State, Illinois, Iowa State, and Utah. Receiving a commitment from him would not only give the Illini their fourth 4 star recruit of the class, but more importantly depth at the linebacker position, which has been a position of concern. I took sometime to speak to him about what’s next in his recruitment and where the Illini fit in his plans.
AS: Tell me a little bit about your recruiting process? What have you learned from it?
Jashua Allen: I’ve learned a lot man… having schools reach out to you for doing something that you love is one of the greatest feelings. Especially being a JUCO football player.
AS: Coming from a JUCO program, how do you think that will help prepare you for your next destination and the next level after that?
Jashua Allen: It gives me the in game experience and I think the JUCO level has prepared me well. By playing against people that are just as good as me, it allows me to get better. The game speed is very different and it was definitely a jump from high school football. It took some time to adjust, but I was able to.
AS: Let’s talk about that top 5 you released, is there any leader? Any visits scheduled?
Jashua Allen: No leader and I plan to visit Illinois in October. That’s all so far.
AS: What stands out to you about Illinois?
Jashua Allen: What makes Illinois stand out is they are completely on the other side of the US from home. It’s just a different type of program. They are building something special and it may be the change that I need.
AS: Which coaches have you been in contact with and how is your relationship with them? Is there anything specific about them that stood out?
Jashua Allen: I’ve been in touch with Coach Nickerson and Coach Clark. They are both cool people and have shown themselves to be trustworthy.
AS: My final question, is there a timeline for your decision?
Jashua Allen: No, there is no timeline. I will be making the decision when I’m 100% sure.
JUCO players are always tough to gage because it can go 50/50. An example of this was former Illini and now Green Bay Packer Geronimo Allison. A lot of people were unsure about how he would fare in orange and blue and not too long after he became a fan favorite. Also, these players are usually only playing for 2 years before their eligibility is over so it doesn’t give you much time to learn the system. However, as I said earlier, Jashua Allen would be a nice get for the Illini as he’s another type of player that fits Lovie Smith’s hard nose defensive mentality.
Do we get him? As of right now, I’m not sure. The Illini like many of you know are still in hot pursuit of Trinity Catholic linebacker Shammond Cooper and I find it hard to believe that the Illini will land Allen and Cooper. Personally, I believe the staff would like to take both players but time will tell. Also, Jashua said he will be visiting Champaign in October which is the same time when another big time defensive Illini target ,Jacob Bandes, will be visiting. If the stars are aligned correctly, it could be a heck of a month for the Illini. I’d like to lean Illinois for Jashua Allen’s commitment but as everyone knows recruiting is fluid, and things can change in a heartbeat.