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LB Lavar Gardner commits to Illinois

Linebacker/safety adds versatility to defense.

Twitter: @LavargardnerJr

Let's hope the recruiting floodgates open for the Illini going forward in this football class of 2020.

It started with a huge wave Thursday with the commitment of Hutchinson Community College linebacker/safety hybrid Lavar Gardner, which he announced on Twitter.

At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Gardner presents a large, physically imposing presence in the back end of Illinois's defense.

The former Georgia native is a feather in the cap for Lovie Smith and this recruiting staff, as Gardner is a long, rangy athlete who could play multiple positions in the defensive secondary. He also helps fill the void left by Stanley Green, who graduates after 2019, and has stabilized the safety group for the Illini. Gardner seems like a perfect system for for this defense and could make an impact immediately next season.

Gardner chose Illinois over Nebraska and several other lower level offers. He is the ninth commitment for the class of 2020 and the second defensive player after defensive tackle Quinton McCoy.