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Maleek Williams commits to Arkansas over Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee

Williams named Illinois his leader on Tuesday.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Lovie Smith and the Fighting Illini received some disappointing news on Saturday afternoon. Three-star running back Maleek Williams (Punta Gorda, FL) has given a verbal commitment to Arkansas over Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Florida. The 6-foot, 200-pound back had named Illinois his leader just four days prior to this announcement.

Williams is currently the No. 1150 overall player (No. 79 running back) in 247Sports' class-of-2017 composite rankings.

So, yeah, this is a bit unfortunate for the Orange and Blue. Williams previously told Illini Inquirer that he had hoped to visit Champaign sometime during the Summer, but that trip now appears doubtful given this latest development. But who knows -- anything can happen if Lovie Smith eventually manages to get him on campus for a day.

2017 Illinois Football Recruiting Class

Three-star running back Mike Epstein (Fort Lauderdale, FL) is already committed to Illinois, but he visited Michigan a few months ago so his arrival isn't completely guaranteed. Other current targets at the position include three-star backs Tayon Fleet-Davis (MD) and Chase Hayden (TN).