Dudek ends waiting game

Dudek ends waiting game

Wait and possibly pick up other offers.

Commit and end the recruiting process.

Mike Dudek chose the latter option, and in doing so, became the third Illinois football commit in the Class of 2014.

Illinois had offered a scholarship to the speedy wide receiver from Neuqua Valley (Ill.) High School in early March.

By the time the 5-foot-11-inch, 175-pound Dudek committed to the Illini last Wednesday night, Illinois was still the only school who had offered him.

“I committed because I knew after taking several visits to other schools that the place I wanted to be was Illinois,” Dudek said. “They wanted me there, too. I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else. Instead of waiting, I figured why wait any longer?”

Dudek, who will likely fill the role of a slot wide receiver at Illinois along with the possibility of returning punts and kickoffs, had visited Indiana, Iowa State and Wisconsin along with multiple visits to Illinois in the past year.

Dudek said Vanderbilt had contacted him as well, but, like Indiana, Iowa State and Wisconsin, had not yet extended an offer.

“Other schools told me they wanted to come to their summer camps and they were probably going to offer me then,” Dudek said. “But I already knew that Illiniois was the school for me. Instead of waiting to see if any of those other schools would offer, I thought there wasn’t a point in waiting.”

Dudek hauled in 46 passes for 991 yards and 14 touchdowns last fall for the Wildcats, who went 12-1 running a pro-style and spread offense and advanced to the Class 8A state semifinals before losing 26-21 to eventual state champion Chicago Mt. Carmel.

Dudek said he welcomes the added scrutiny and attention he might receive from opposing defensive backs and fans during the 2013 season for Neuqua Valley, a school of 4,072 students in Naperville.

“Last year towards the end of the season, teams were starting to double team me a little more because our quarterback threw the ball to me a lot,” Dudek said. “At the end of last season, I was used to them putting the best guy on me. It makes me work even harder. It’s definitely something I’d rather have than not have.”

Dudek said he is good friends with Chicago Mt. Carmel defensive lineman Enoch Smith Jr., an Illinois recruiting target in the Class of 2014.

With Dudek becoming the second commit in the class so far from the Chicago suburbs (Lincoln-Way East center Nick Allegretti is the other), he said he’d gladly spread the word to other targets from Chicago and its suburbs.

“Now it’s our turn to help recruit,” Dudek said. “I’m already on a bunch of kids, making sure that they’re coming to the spring game (on April 12).”

Dudek said new Illinois wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy made a big impression on him, a key reason why he decided on the Illini.

“I’m real close with him,” Dudek said. “He and I built a great relationship. He’s definitely one of the main factors as to why I committed this early.”

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