The Fighting Illini have just received what may be their most important verbal commitment of the 2016 recruiting class. According to Jeremy Werner and other writers from Scout.com, three-star inside linebacker De'le Harding (Elkton, MD) will sign with Illinois on Wednesday. Harding, who was a former Michigan commit, had other scholarship offers from Rutgers, Tennessee, and USC.
With the departure of staring linebacker T.J. Neal, Harding will be competing for immediate playing time next season as a freshman.
Can confirm that #illini have received a commitment from Maryland linebacker De'le Harding, a former Michigan commit.— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) February 1, 2016
"Harding is best when playing downhill and moving between the tackles. He accelerates well toward the line of scrimmage and he has good body control. He needs to be better with his instincts toward the sideline and work on his coverage skills. Harding has the ability to play physical, and he runs well. He needs to work on his disengaging skills."
~ Brian Dohn, Scout.com
Note: Harding's HUDL page is private, so the below YouTube video from October 2014 contains the only available highlights on the internet
Harding was Illinois' No. 1 remaining target, so this is a huge boost to the overall status of the class. 247Sports hasn't updated the below roster, but the program's class was ranked No. 68 nationally and No. 12 in the Big Ten prior to this latest addition.
Update: Illinois' recruiting class is up to No. 66 nationally and remains at No. 12 in the Big Ten after Harding's commitment.