Last week, Illinois became the first Big Ten program to extend an offer to Dayton (Ohio) Chaminade-Julienne linebacker Darrien Howard. On Sunday, Howard reciprocated the Illini's interest by attending their junior day.
"It was nice and I really liked it," Howard said. "Coach [Tim] Beckman, you can tell how fired up he is about the season and the things they are trying to accomplish."
Having an Illinois offer in hand, Howard enjoyed the reception he received from the Illinois coaching staff.
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"There was a lot of love," he said. "They basically were telling me what they need in a linebacker, and they believe I can help them there."
Prior to Illinois, Howard had been offered by Cincinnati, Bowling Green and Ohio University. He added his fifth offer of the process earlier this week.
"Toledo just offered me Tuesday," Howard reported. "It was kind of unexpected. I have talked to Toledo a little bit, but prior to that it hadn't been recently."
Additional interest has come in this week from Wisconsin and Pittsburgh. The 6-2, 250-pound prospect talked with coaches at both schools earlier this week and also heard encouraging news from West Virginia coaches this week.
"I talked to West Virginia and their linebacker coach said they were going to offer me, but they were going to talk to my head coach first to see how I am as a student, as a person, my character, grades and all that," Howard said.
A West Virginia offer would certainly be well received by Howard and he has been paying attention to their changing conference affiliation.
"I know they are going to the Big 12 now. That would be pretty nice," Howard said. "The Big 12 is a pretty good conference. As they get used to being in the Big 12 they will get a whole lot better being around so much competition there."
Next up for Howard is a visit to Indiana this month, and then the four-star linebacker will tour a couple SEC schools in April.
"I'll see Tennessee and Alabama over spring break," Howard said. "That will be going into Alabama's spring game, and that's what I am going down for."