Geronimo Allison makes no excuses.
He didn’t have the grades to cut it in college.
At least not initially coming out of Spoto (Fla.) High School.
“I only played football my senior year of high school, so I didn’t have all the offers that I’m able to be getting in now,” said Allison, who verbally committed to Illinois on July 25. “The JUCO route was where I was eligible to go. I wouldn’t have qualified out of high school. The last semester of ninth grade I had a 1.4 GPA. I was in the hole from there.”
Enter Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.
The Reivers took a chance on the 6-foot-4, 180-pound athlete who caught 26 passes for 567 yards and four touchdowns his senior year.
Allison rewarded them with 26 receptions for 428 yards and two touchdowns last fall, which ended in Iowa Western winning a national title.
Two current Illini, wide receiver Martize Barr and offensive tackle Dallas Hinkhouse, played alongside Allison last season at Iowa Western.
Allison sought input from the two while considering Illinois along with offers from Colorado State, Florida Atlantic, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Ohio and Utah State.
“They spoke well about the program,” Allison said. “It’s family-oriented. They really enjoy it.”
The facilities at Illinois and the “family-oriented” atmosphere were two big selling points for Allison, who had dinner with Tim Beckman and his wife at their house in Urbana while Allison was on an official visit two weekends ago.
“I like stuff like that,” Allison said. “The situation they have for me just seems like the right fit.”
Allison will likely be the primary target for Iowa Western this fall.
The Reivers will have to replace quarterback Jake Waters, a Kansas State signee who threw for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns compared to only three interceptions and could possibly start for Bill Snyder's squad this fall, along with their top three wide receivers.
“That experience was great,” Allison said. “I was a young cat running with a lot of two-year players, and just being able to learn from them and pick up things was great. Once I learned the info and let it run with my talent, it got more fun. I loved it.”
Barr (31 catches for 498 yards, five TDs) is at Illinois, Deon Long (100 catches for 1,626 yards, 25 TDs) is at Maryland and Andrew Stone (60 catches for 685 yards, 9 TDs) will suit up for Iowa in 2013.
“I’ll need to just work on the little things as far as reading different coverages and picking it up immediately, along with how to beat the different coverages and block,” Allison said. “I’ll need to multi-task, and be able to move into the slot and also outside. Anything they ask me to do, I’ll do.”
Illinois recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh served as Allison’s lead recruiter.
The two developed a close bond.
“He was pretty upfront with me,” Allison said. “He kept it real at all times. Any questions I had, he had answers for. I felt like I was asking too many questions, but he was still answering them and telling me everything about Illinois.”
Allison should have some familiar faces he’ll know when he arrives in Champaign-Urbana. And a first name that’s ripe for a conversation starter.
“My mom just felt like it was a unique name,” Geronimo Allison said with a laugh. “Growing up, whenever I would meet new people and they’d ask what my name was, I used to hesitate. They would always question me. I had to get more mature about it, but I’ve grown used to it.”