Illinois football has just added a 21st member to Lovie Smith’s first full recruiting class. Three-star defensive end Deon Pate (FL) announced a verbal commitment to the Fighting Illini on Monday night. The 6-foot-3, 246-pound prospect was originally committed to play for Appalachian State, but he had a change of heart following an official visit to Champaign this past weekend.
According to 247Sports, Pate is rated as the No. 1175 overall player and No. 56 SDE in the class-of-2017. The former Appalachian State commit also had additional Power 5 interest from Rutgers (scholarship offer), Maryland, and Purdue.
With Pate in the fold, Illinois is so far expected to sign four defensive lineman this recruiting cycle; the other members of the talented quartet are four-star DT Kendrick Green (IL), three-star DE Owen Carney (FL), and three-star DE Olalere Oladipo (IL). Overall, the Fighting Illini still have four remaining scholarships to use on 2017 prospects.