Chicago (Ill.) Morgan Park junior wide receiver prospect Chris James (6-foot-0, 177 pounds) has decided to end his recruiting process early and has given the University of Illinois and head coach Ron Zook his verbal commitment. James becomes the first known prospect from the Illinois Class of 2006 to make his pledge public. James made his verbal commitment known after Thursday night's Maine South High School Quarterback Camp workout, which drew well over 50 plus college coaches from across the country.
"I decided that I wanted to end my recruiting process," James said. "I called head coach Ron Zook last week and gave him my verbal commitment to the University of Illinois. I wanted to wait to announce my commitment until after the camp tonight so that we could attract as many coaches as possible to this camp. I really enjoyed the other players and the coaches here at the camp, and I didn't want this news to overshadow the importance of the camp tonight."
James talked about why he decided to choose the Illini over recruiting interest and offers from several schools across the country.
"Basically Illinois just felt more and more like Morgan Park to me. All of the coaches will tell you to go where you feel the most comfortable, and that's why I'm going to go to Illinois. Every time I head down to Illinois it just feels more and more like home to me, and I really feel like going to Illinois is the right thing for me to do. All of the coaches at Illinois just made me feel so comfortable, and the new offense at Illinois is exciting and is similar to what we do at Morgan Park. I just really love it in Champaign, plus I know I'll have a chance to get a great education at Illinois."
So why did James decide to give such an early commitment to the Illini despite drawing nearly 30 offers so far in May?
"I decided to make my decision this early because as the recruiting process goes along things just seem to get harder and harder. I just wanted to avoid all of the pressures from recruiting and to let me focus on things in the class room as well as focusing on my senior season. Illinois just feels right to me, and I've always have been a person that follows his instincts. My instincts and my gut tell me that Illinois is where I want to be."
So where the Illini the team to beat for James early on in his recruiting process?
"At first I wouldn't say that Illinois was the team to beat, and I really wanted to make sure that I didn't just jump at the first offer that came my way. I looked hard at different schools, especially over the last few weeks with all of the offers that have come my way. It all comes down to that comfort feeling, and Illinois just felt better and better to me every day. Whether the Illini are successful on the field or not, it really came down to the feeling I have with Illinois plus being able to play for coaches that your comfortable playing for in college."
Jones is both excited and relieved at making his early choice to the Illini.
"I'm very relieved and I'm finally glad to have it over with. Just to have a chance to have made this decision early means so much and also takes all of the recruiting pressures off of me. Now I can just focus on school and winning a state championship next year. I really want to give it everything I have for my senior season and to get a state championship for Morgan Park and to really enjoy my senior year of high school."
James will now turn his focus to becoming a very vocal recruiter for head coach Ron Zook and the Illini.
"I'm going to be one heck of a recruiter for the Illini from here on out. My quarterback Demetrius Jones, my lineman Ray-Ray (Ramone Johnson) and Isiah (Williams) I'm going to go after hard for the Illini. I have confidence in the coaches at Illinois and the Illini will bring in some great players, and I'm going to help out anyway I can to make things happen in Champaign."
"I'm a solid commit to the Fighting Illini."