Hylton will play defense at Illinois
Julian Hylton put up impressive offensive numbers last fall at Lincoln-Way North.
The Class of 2014 prospect who committed to Illinois on Tuesday afternoon rushed for 1,186 yards on 155 carries and 20 touchdowns with the Phoenix in 2012.
He added 181 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
But it's at cornerback where Hylton's services will likely find themselves used at Illinois.
And the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Hylton is OK with that.
"I didn't have a preference," he said. "I'm always open for anything. I'm just the type of person who has an open mind and tries to take the positive out of any situation. They saw me as a better fit as a corner, so I'll work on improving at that position."
When Hylton suits up for Illinois during the 2014 season, he'll make history.
He is the first Lincoln-Way North player who will play for the Illini.
Of course, it's not a large sample size.
Lincoln-Way North — one of four high schools in the Lincoln-Way school district — opened in 2008. The Frankfort school has a solid football reputation, having qualified for the Class 6A playoffs in three of its five seasons.
Fellow Class of 2014 commit Nick Allegretti is from Lincoln-Way East, but the two teams won't play each other this season.
Lincoln-Way North is in the Southwest Suburban Red Conference and Lincoln-Way East is in the Southwest Suburban Blue Conference.
"It's an honor and a pleasure to be the first guy to do it," Hylton said. "I'm just happy that the coaches down there at Illinois saw something special in me to offer me."
Illinois didn't offer Hylton until mid-June.
After Hylton utilized his skills at a one-day showcase camp at Illinois, Tim Beckman and his coaches were quick to pull the trigger on an offer.
Hylton reciprocated with a commitment shortly thereafter.
"The thing I like about Illinois is the message," Hylton said. "Coach Beckman talks a lot about state pride, and the state pride in our team. He expects the best out of all the Illinois guys. I like the vision he has."
Hylton did not have the list of big-time offers, but is a three-star recruit.
Army and Northern Illinois were his only Football Bowl Subdivision offers along with a handful of offers from Football Championship Subdivision programs like Bucknell, Colgate, Illinois State, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Hylton said he had participated in camps at Big Ten schools such as Indiana, Nebraska and Northwestern, but no offers had been extended his way.
"My parents and I were talking about it, and we felt that we liked Illinois," Hylton said. "We just felt like we could make a decision right now, so we did."
Hylton is the ninth commit Illinois has landed in the Class of 2014, and fifth in the past month.
Illinois linebackers coach Mike Ward and Illinois running backs coach Tim Salem were the lead recruiters on Hylton, who is the fifth player in the Class of 2014 from either Chicago or its surrounding suburbs.
Hylton said he grew up a fan of Illinois.
"I've always wanted them to win, and I've loved the energy that Illinois has always had," he said. "You've got be an Illinois fan when that's your home state."
And he grew up a fan of Chief Illiniwek.
"I definitely miss the Chief," Hylton said. "I just thought it was a pretty cool mascot."