Last week, Washington (D.C.) H.D. Woodson safety Darwyn Kelly made a decision. The 6-foot-1, 194-pounder elected to head to the Big Ten over a variety of other offers.
"I chose Illinois over North Carolina and Penn State was in it for a moment until the sanctions, that kind of dropped them out," he said. "I went up to Illinois the weekend before I committed to see the campus and talk to all the coaches. That was my first time there."
Obviously the trip wowed Kelly enough to follow through with a pledge a few days later.
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"I got to talk to Coach Beatty, the recruiter for this area along with the defensive coordinator and the head coach, Coach Beckman," he said. "I had a good conversation with Coach Beckman. I loved what I saw on the visit and they had been recruiting me the hard ever since they heard about me. They showed me a lot of love and I called them on that Friday and told them I had some good news. They were thrilled to heara bout my decision."
In the end, what put the Illini on top?
"I liked the football facilities, the emphasis on education and I liked Coach Beckman and the defensive coordinator," he said. "That's who I'll play for and then on top of that, all the safeties are seniors, so when I get there in December, I'll be able to compete for the starting job."
Regarding the staff specifically, the three-star had strong words.
"It was their hospitality and excitement," he said. "They talked about how I'll be used and how I'll fit into the program, everything. They were the school on me the hardest and that means a lot."