The Illinois football team already has 10 members of its Class of 2013 enrolled at the university.
That means nearly half of the 24 verbal commits Illinois head coach Tim Beckman had received for this class will be eligible for spring practice. The rest of the class is expected to sign letters of intent on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The number dipped to 24 on Monday night when word hit that Trotwood-Madison (Ohio) defensive back Reon Dawson de-committed from Illinois and gave a commitment to Michigan.
Half of the 10 are junior college players who signed in mid-December while the other half are high school seniors who graduated early to enroll at Illinois for the second semester, which started on Monday.
"To bring in 10 guys early, that's probably one of the highest numbers in the country," Beckman said in a press release. "The fact that they're starting classes this week and getting to experience college football this spring will be huge for them as they compete for playing time in 2013."
The five recent high school grads (defensive back Dillan Cazley from Charleston (Ill.) High School, defensive back Darius Mosely from O'Fallon (Ill.) High School and offensive linemen Jesse Chadwell from Clarkston (Mich.) High School, Christian DiLauro from Green (Ohio) High School and Austin Schmidt from Olentangy (Ohio) High School) join five junior college transfers (wide receiver Martize Barr from Iowa Western Community College, defensive tackle Abe Cajuste from Victor Valley (Calif.) College, linebacker/safety Eric Finney from College of the Canyons in California, offensive lineman Dallas Hinkhouse from Iowa Western Community College and safety Zane Petty from American River (Calif.) College) who signed in mid-December.
Chadwell and Schmidt were first-team all-conference linemen their senior seasons while DiLauro — who dealt with an ankle injury — earned second-team all-conference honors after he primarily played tight end and defensive end at Green.
Despite missing four games because of a broken ankle, Cazley compiled 70 tackles and three interceptions at Charleston.
Mosely had an impact offensively at O'Fallon this past fall with 1,126 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, and on defense registered 33 tackles and one interception.
"All of our early enrollees who started classes (Monday) are outstanding players who fill areas of need," Beckman said. "The fact that five young men graduated high school early in order to get started here speaks volumes for their character. It shows that they're willing to go above and beyond and will do whatever it takes to succeed at this level."