Illinois football entered the race for one of the nation’s top junior college prospects on Wednesday. Per his Twitter account, four-star defensive end Isaiah Buggs announced that he’s picked up an offer from the Fighting Illini. Buggs is rated as the No. 2 overall JUCO prospect by 247Sports, and he has other scholarships on the table from just about every major program.
The Louisiana native recently released a top ten of Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Florida, Georgia, Miami (FL), Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M, though he’s apparently still opening to hearing from other schools.
I’m absolutely being way optimistic here, but I really do think Illinois could have a chance if they manage to get Buggs on campus for a visit. There will essentially be an unlimited amount of playing time to be had at the position next Fall, and that’s an opportunity that can’t exactly be promised elsewhere. Furthermore, the Fighting Illini just developed Jihad Ward — a former JUCO player himself — into the No. 44 overall pick of the NFL Draft; senior Dawuane Smoot is also being talked-up as a possible First Round selection, too.
The Illini will have a ton of ground to make up, but Biggs is the type of instant-impact prospect that would raise the team’s floor during what should be a transitional season.
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Illinois’ old coaching staff recruited Long out of high school, so it makes sense that they’re already being considered as a potential destination. The Ohio native was rated as the No. 606 overall player in the country, and he held other offers from Louisville, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
"I wouldn’t say it mattered, especially after finding out exactly who was coming to step in and take that role," said linebacker Dele Harding, who picking Illinois just before National Signing Day. "There was no second-guessing about him and his system. I know almost everything about him and what he has done in the NFL."
"Coach Phair, he's a great addition, I think he really got the defensive line going in the right direction and now I think coach Smith and Coach Nickerson and everyone else are doing the same thing with the entire defense," Illinois senior defensive lineman Rob Bain said.
Pedrya Seymour notched the highest Olympic finish by an Illinois track athlete in 20 years with a sixth place finish in the 100m hurdles final Wednesday evening. The Illini red-shirt junior timed 12.76 in the final after setting a new personal-record time of 12.64 in the semifinals earlier in the evening.