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Illinois adds first transfer commit of offseason

Bret is back to the portal.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 06 Abilene Christian at Jacksonville State Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Illini aren’t playing in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday night, but Bret Bielema and Co. are hard at work.

Louisville DB Nicario Harper became Illinois’ first offseason addition after he announced his commitment Saturday.

According to 247, Illinois visited Harper in person this week.

Harper has one year of eligibility remaining.

The Georgia native started his college career at Southern Mississippi before transferring to FCS Jacksonville State. Harper was named an AP First-Team FCS All-American during the COVID 2020-21 season.

He spent the 2022 season at Louisville playing just four games for the Cardinals.

Illinois is losing a lot of defensive depth — especially in the backfield — to graduation and the NFL Draft, so Harper should be able to compete for a starting role in the secondary next season.