Days after receiving the commitment of four-star Bolingbrook (Ill.) quarterback Aaron Bailey, Illinois kept their in-state recruiting momentum going on Monday, grabbing a commitment from Belleville (Ill.) Althoff Catholic defensive tackle Merrick Jackson.
"I first called Coach [Chris] Beatty, my recruiting coach, and then I called Coach Beckman," Jackson reported Monday evening. "They were both very excited."
The 6-foot-2, 320-pound Jackson held offers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri, but his decision really came down to two schools.
"I just started thinking about it recently," Jackson said. "Iowa and UofI were my top teams, them Iowa called me not too long ago and told me they filled up their spots, so my other top choice was Illinois.
"I talked with my mom a little bit about it and she told me to go with whatever makes me happy. I like the new staff and the defensive line coach, Coach [Keith] Gilmore. Everything just feels like a family."
Jackson had a chance to visit Illinois twice during his recruitment, with his most recent visit to Champaign occurring earlier this spring.
"I went to their first practice," he said. "They are all physical, and I'd say I am a physical player so I'd fit well with their defensive line."
Jackson, a three-star prospect, now joins Bailey, Peoria Richwoods running back Kendrick Foster and Charleston defensive back Dillan Cazley among in-state prospects committed to the Illini in the 2013 class.
"I am very excited to be a part of the family," Jackson said.