Lake Forest (Ill.) Academy defensive end Faith Ekakitie took his first official visit of the recruiting process last weekend to Illinois. The four-star prospect reflected on that visit, and also laid out the plans for future official visits.
The 6-3, 285-pound Ekakitie traveled down to Champaign the Sept. 30 weekend for his official visit with the Illini, which allowed him to see their comeback win over in-state rival Northwestern.
"I picked a great weekend to go there," Ekakitie said. "They played Northwestern, got a great win against them to go 5-0 and the environment is great right now. From a recruit standpoint, it was the best weekend possible to go there.
"It was a very informational trip. I learned a lot about the school itself and got to hang out with the players, which was really refreshing. It was refreshing just being away from school, actually. School gets a little hectic around October."
Ekakitie said he had great conversations with the Illinois coaching staff, but his time spent with the players particularly resonated with him.
"I spent a lot of time with the starting d-tackle, Akeem Spence," Ekakitie said. "His whole message to me was, 'If you are going to come to Illinois, you're not going to come for the coaches, you're not going to come for what kind of school it is, you are going to come for the players you are going to be around for four years.'
"He was just saying that if you come to Illinois, you're going to play big-time football, you're going to have fun, you're going to get your degree and do big things."
Ekakitie is targeting the Nov. 12 weekend to make his second official visit of the recruiting process to Boston College. His parents are expected to accompany him on that trip.
Following his early afternoon game on Saturday, Ekakitie was headed down to Northwestern University to see them take on Michigan. He has not scheduled other official visits after his Boston College trip, but has a good idea of which schools will receive them.
"I am going to officially visit Oregon, Georgia Tech and Iowa for sure," Ekakitie said. "I'm trying to stay open to all kinds of teams right now and not knock anybody out. I have teams I am favoring, obviously, but as the year goes by things change, coaches get fired and teams win and lose. That all factors into the decision."
The schools Ekakitie mentioned he is favoring at this time are Illinois, Boston College, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Prior to his visit to Northwestern on Saturday, Ekakitie and his Lake Forest team played host to Providence Catholic and four-star offensive tackle prospect Ryan Ward. Although Ekakitie and Ward were lined up across from one another, the blocking schemes employed by Providence Catholic meant the two rarely connected in the trenches.
"I watched film and prepared mentally all week for the game," Ekakitie said. "I knew we wouldn't really be going head-to-head. I knew he would be blocking down, so I had to chase down the line. Unfortunately there were plays I didn't get there in time."
Lake Forest dropped the game by a final of 46-14. Ekakitie recorded a fumble recovery, but was not able to register many tackles and had few plays run directly at him.