When Lovie Smith took over Fighting Illini football, his first scholarship offer went out to three-star linebacker/safety DeCalon Brooks. The program's interest evidently hasn't subsided since that first phone call as Brooks recently informed Rivals.com that a visit to Champaign is in the works. The Florida native is the son of Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks, who played under Smith in Tampa Bay from 1996-2000.
https://t.co/wpzeoQlGZQ - #Illini tracking 3-star linebacker DeCalon Brooks (@DBrooks_28) https://t.co/JW0Zccg9zx pic.twitter.com/RY5GoOn5WC— Doug Bucshon (@IllinoisRivals) July 22, 2016
Illinois was the first Power 5 program to offer Brooks, and he has since picked up a scholarship from Florida State (his father's alma mater). He also cited South Florida and Rutgers as two other schools showing significant interest.
Florida State is clearly the lone school that jumps off the page, but that doesn't mean this recruitment is a done deal. Brooks is the No. 1114 overall player in 247Sports' composite rankings so the Seminoles are likely prioritizing other players at the moment. There's still plenty of time for Lovie Smith to take advantage of his unique relationship to the family and vault the Illini to the top of Brooks' list -- if they aren't already.
July 23, 2016 Poll Question
Which school will eventually land DeCalon Brooks? Make sure to case your vote below, and let us know what you think down in the comments! To view the results from yesterday's question, click here.
Illinois Fighting Illini Links
- Malcolm Hill invited to Nike Basketball Academy (TCR)
The senior wing has been invited to participate in the 2016 Nike Basketball Academy alongside some of the nation's premier collegiate and high school talent. The event will take place from July 25-27.
- Illinois picked to finish near the bottom of Big Ten West (TCR)
The unofficial Big Ten media poll has picked Lovie Smith and the Illinois Fighting Illini to finish in sixth place, ahead of only Purdue. That's obviously not the most optimistic outlook on the season, but it isn't exactly a surprise given the team's depth chart and schedule.
- Illinois DE Dawuane Smoot ranked as the Big Ten's No. 24 player (BTN)
The Illini have produced a raft of good linemen in recent years. Smoot is next in line. He paced the club with 15 TFLs and eight sacks last year, showing explosion and athletic ability off the edge for a unit that needs a star with Jihad Ward gone.