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‘Call him a salesman’: Jamal Woods lured back to Illinois by Bielema

The Illini will have much needed depth on the defensive line.

NCAA Football: Western Illinois at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Does new Illini head coach Bret Bielema have a career in sales if this whole coaching thing doesn't work out? Maybe.

Add Jamal Woods to the list of Illini taking advantage of the COVID-19 NCAA eligibility rule and returning to Illinois for an extra season.

The defensive tackle announced via Twitter his plans to spend another season in Orange and Blue.

Woods has spent the last four years at Illinois, spending time as both a defensive end and more recently as a defensive tackle. The Alabama native has been a solid piece on the defensive line — picking up sacks, tackles for loss, pass deflections and 55 tackles. After an injury riddled 2020 campaign, Bielema has convinced Woods to return for 2021.

“I guess you could call him a salesman because he sold me to come back,” Woods told the media Tuesday afternoon.

Bielema didn’t only land his first two commits on Tuesday, but Woods joins his group of more than a half-dozen players saying they plan to return for another season (Brandon Peters, Alex Palczewski, Doug Kramer, Vederian Lowe, Ethen Tabel. James McCourt and Blake Hayes).

On Twitter, Bielema wrote: “The real recruiting started in our own family. More to come and set the tone for others to jump aboard.”

Illinois’ new head coach has been busy over his first three weeks on the job, also adding an offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, strength and conditioning coach and Director of Football Operations to his staff.

On the business front, Bielema spent his collegiate career playing defense at Iowa, while also studying sales. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

So how exactly was Bielema able to use his background to convince Woods to return?

“He told me, ‘you can’t let this opportunity go.’”