All eyes will be on Illinois Football this Friday when they take the field at the historic Cotton Bowl. Family, friends, the fanbase, and, perhaps most importantly, recruits. Tim Beckman promised a bowl appearance to a number of high school prospects--and he delivered.
Champaign native Jimmy Fitzgerald decided to trust Coach Beckman when he committed to the program back in February. Today he was kind enough to join TCR to reflect on his commitment, discuss his health (tore ACL at beginning of season), his decision to enroll early, and the future of Illinois Football.
1. What was Coach Beckman able to sell you on and why did you ultimately commit?
The opportunity to make a difference in the program and get a great education at the same time.
2. What does making it to a bowl game do for the recruits?
It shows that the program is going in the right direction. 2 wins to 4 to 6. He wants us to be apart of the 8 and so on.
3. I know Coach Beckman has used the bowl game to gain some recruiting momentum. Can you tell me what that is like having a bunch of new guys join on all at once?
It's great having guys jump in. There really is a domino effect. The more guys that commit, the more other people want to be a part of it.
4. Can you talk about the close relationship you have with some of the other recruits?
When Gabe committed we started a group chat consisting of Dre, Gabe, and myself. Every time we get a commitment we add them to the group so it's really cool to be able to talk to the guys every day. We are a tight knit group and I believe that will transfer over to the field.
5. Why did you decide to enroll early?
I wanted to get a head start on the playbook and also give myself the opportunity to start school early.
6. What was it like sitting out for such a long period of time? Have you ever had to do that before?
It's tough but I am confident God has a plan for me. I am working hard every day to get better and play for Illinois.
7. How is your knee feeling?
It feels great.
8. What are some goals you and the other recruits have made for your time at Illinois?
Big Ten Champs. That's what everyone wants to accomplish.
9. What does it mean to you to stay in state and play for your hometown team?
Being able to play in my hometown is really a dream come true. I grew up a huge fan and I'm blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of the program.
10. What is your opinion of the uniforms and which is your favorite?
My favorite unis have to be the grey ghost unis or the all whites. I'm really excited for the navy ones next year I think they'll be pretty cool.
Obviously the Illini are getting a great quarterback and an even better all-around person. In his junior year he threw for 2,008 yards, completed 64% of his passes and had 18 TDs to just 5 INTS. He also ran for 400 yards and 7 TDs. In addition to his stats, he was named second team all-state and first academic team all-state. The Champaign Room would like to thank Jimmy for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure to follow him on Twitter at @Jimmy_Fitz97. A special thanks also goes out to Joy Bilger.