Justin Jackson has already played on the Memorial Stadium turf in Champaign.
Whether he does so after he graduates from Glenbard North (Ill.) High School will likely play out in the next nine months.
The 6-foot, 175-pound junior running back from Glenbard North (Ill.) High School gained 63 yards on 28 carries and added a 76-yard interception return for a touchdown during the Panthers' 28-14 loss against Chicago Mt. Carmel in last Novemeber's Class 8A state championship game.
Illinois is one of eight offers Jackson has on a list that includes Boston College, Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Toledo and Vanderbilt.
Jackson hasn't visited Champaign since playing in the 8A state championship game, and with Luke Butkus, Jackon's lead recruiter, leaving Illinois in January, Jackson hasn't heard much from the coaching staff, he said.
But he's not ruling Illinois out.
"They're still there," Jackson said. "I was a fan growing up. It's the home state school, and I've talked to their coaches quite a bit in the past. They're pretty high on me."
They have reason to.
Jackson rushed for 2,602 yards his junior season and 35 touchdowns, including a 230-yard effort on 46 carries against Loyola Academy in an 8A state semifinal win that sent Glenbard North into the state championship game.
He added 288 receiving yards on 20 catches and three touchdowns.
Jackson visited Nebraska in January, and said he plans to visit Indiana in a few weeks along with a possible trip to Ohio State at the end of March. He added he'd like to set up a vist to Vanderbilt in the next few months.
"I'd like to have (made a decision) before the summer, but the way it looks now, I don't think it will happen that way," Jackson said. "I don't want to rush it or anything since it's such a big decision. It may come shortly before my next football season or after next football season. It really just depends how I feel after I visit places."
Jackson hasn't narrowed his list of suitors down to a set number and said he doesn't have a favorite.
"I'm pretty much wide open right now," he said. "I'm just going in with a positive manner. The schools that are competing for you are going to tell you what you like to hear. I'm not trying to get caught up into all the glamour things. It's not about facillities. When you make it to the NFL, it's not about where you went to college. I try and look at it from a different point of view."
Jackson is a two-way starter at Glenbard North, and will most likely find his future college position at running back, but playing defensive back isn't out of the question, either.
"I want to be more consistent on the defensive side," Jackson said about his upcoming senior season. "Towards the end of last season, I didn't get many reps in practice because I was more focusing on offense. It's all about repetition. Hopefully I will stay more consistent with that, and just get more powerful with my runs. I'd like to break away a few more long runs next year and maybe break a few more tackles in the process. I'm a perfectionist. I've got to improve in every aspect."