Bret Bielema and his staff filled a positional need for the team last Wednesday, grabbing a commitment from Michigan State transfer OL Kevin Wigenton II.
Bielema and his staff were very clear in their pursuit of Wigenton, who played over 500 snaps in the Big Ten in 2023.
“When the portal opened, Coach B was one of the first to call, like five minutes after my name was in there,” Wigenton told TCR over the holiday weekend.
“They just showed a lot of interest. A lot of people from the staff hit me up and they have a great track record of putting linemen in the league and [receiving] all Big-Ten honors, so it was always really appealing,” he said.
The offensive lineman chose Illinois over a host of Power Five conference schools, with Louisville, Colorado, South Carolina and Indiana sending him offers, among others.
In Champaign, Wigenton won’t be without a few familiar faces.
“Two of my teammates from high school play for Illinois,” Wigenton said. He attended The Hun School in Princeton, New Jersey with Illinois tight end Owen Anderson and offensive lineman Zach Aamland.
Wigenton did not allow a single sack and gave up seven quarterback pressures this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
The early signing period for the 2024 college football recruiting class opened last Wednesday. In addition to a solid class of high school players, Bielema & co. have also been active in the transfer portal.
Illinois also picked up a commitment from New Mexico State offensive tackle JC Davis last Wednesday, filling the Julian Pearl-sized hole at left tackle.
Wigenton will look to step in for seniors Isaiah Adams and Jordyn Slaughter. He has two years of eligibility left.