Never underestimate the power of Ron Zook as a recruiter. The Fighting Illini have put together a solid recruiting class of high school kids so far for the class of 2006, and Zook took another step toward a potential top 25 class with a solid commitment from one of the top junior college players in Mississippi.
Three-star safety Justin Sanders of Booneville (Miss.) Northeast Community College committed to Zook and defensive back coach Curt Mallory on Wednesday.
"Basically Ron Zook and coach Mallory did a good recruiting job on me," Sanders, who is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, said. "I can help Illinois get back off the ground and help them compete in the Big 10 again. I'm originally from Jackson, Miss., so I kind of wanted to get out of the South.
"And Illinois sounds like a great opportunity."
Sanders is a very good get for the Illini. He was also offered scholarships by Kentucky and Oklahoma State. He will visit Illinois on December 9 and that is his one and only visit scheduled before he signs on December 21.
"Coach Mallory is a good defensive back coach," Sanders said. "He made me feel really comfortable about the situation at Illinois. I think it's going to be a good fit for me."
Sanders was named a first-team all-state selection in the Mississippi Junior College ranks. He was also named the conference's top defensive back.