Getting another offensive lineman is a priority for Tim Beckman when it comes to the Class of 2014.
Right now, Illinois has one: center Nick Allegretti from Lincoln-Way East.
A possible future teammate of Allegretti’s is planning a visit to Illinois this week.
Today in fact.
Nick Padla, a 6-foot-6, 269-pound prospect from Berrien Springs (Mich.), is set to arrive on campus for an unofficial visit on Thursday afternoon.
Padla camped in June at Illinois and received an offer from the Illini two weeks ago.
Illinois offensive line coach A.J. Ricker, who Padla first met when Ricker was at Western Michigan, is Padla’s main recruiter.
“I’m excited to just get back out there,” Padla said of Illinois. “I only went there for a camp, so I didn’t get a chance to really look at everything.”
Aside from Illinois, Padla has offers from one BCS scool in Cincinnati along with offers from a handful of Mid-American Conference schools (Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Toledo and Western Michigan).
Padla said he hears frequently from Michigan State, Minnesota and Missouri, but those three schools have not offered him.
If they do, they might need to hurry up.
Padla said he’d like to decide around Labor Day weekend.
“It’s really fun and then sometimes it gets really stressful getting asked where you’re going all the time,” Padla said. “But I’ve enjoyed it for the most part. It’s exciting for my area because not many kids from my area go play-big time college football.”
Berrien Springs — a school of 500 students who went 3-6 last fall — plays in the same conference as Illinois freshman tight end Tyler White, who hails from Plainwell, Mich.
He is a guard at Berrien Springs, but is getting recruited to play either left or right tackle in college.
He said he’d like to stay within a five- or six-hour radius of Berrien Springs, which is three hours from Champaign-Urbana, and having the chance to play early is a factor in his decision.
Padla said he isn’t too concerned about Illinois finishing 2-10 last year.
“I grew up watching Big Ten football,” Padla said. “I’m looking more at the future and their recruiting classes. That’s what I really look into more than the record.”
Padla said he admires St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Jake Long.
“He’s just the biggest, baddest guy out there,” Padla said.
Padla said Berrien Springs runs a wing-T offense, but he is adapatble since his school operated out of a spread system his sophomore season.
He said he doesn’t have a top three or top five schools, and his preferences may change if Michigan State extends an offer.
Illinois, for the moment, is in a good spot with Padla.
“They’re at least in the top couple of schools I’m interested in,” he said, “but I don’t have anything set yet.”