Detroit Cass Tech offensive tackle Dennis Finley made an unofficial visit to Champaign on Saturday with his head coach and two of his teammates for Illinois' junior day. Finley left that event heavy one more scholarship offer.
"We saw them practice, got to check out the field, the weight room and talked to players," Finley said. "Then me, Kenton Gibbs and Delano Hill went up with the head coach and he offered all three of us a scholarship."
Illinois head coach Tim Beckman has former Cass Tech defensive end Kenny Nelson on his squad now, but he also has had experiences with former Cass Tech products at his previous stop.
"He coached Kishon Wilcher, [Cass Tech head coach Thomas] Wilcher's son, before he left Toledo," Finley said. "He knows that we have good players and I guess he decided to offer us because he knows we're from a good team."
Of course, playing for a good team does not generate a scholarship offer in and of itself. The 6-7, 285-pound Finley had received offers from Cincinnati, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan.
Saturday's junior day visit heightened Finley's awareness and appreciation for the Illinois program. It also gave him a chance to reconnect with Nelson after not having seen him since the former Technician graduated.
"It was cool to see Kenny again and see him practice, see how much he has improved since when I saw him in high school," Finley said. "It was a cool experience to see how college players do things, and how it is different from high school. From what I saw of the school, it seemed like a really good school. It has a good feel and seems like a good environment."
Besides the four schools he has offers from, Finley is also receiving interest from Michigan State, Iowa, Penn, Alabama, Indiana and Notre Dame. Trips to Indiana and Iowa are possible in the near future, and Finley is ready to delve into the recruiting process.
"Now that I am starting to get offers, I am going to have to start looking into different schools," he said. "And I'm just going to keep working hard so I can get more offers."