Nagel comfortable with Illinois

Flynn Nagel still has time to decide on a college.

The Chicago Marist junior wide receiver is putting up some big numbers in the RedHawks' pass-happy offense, but the Class of 2015 recruit hasn't settled on when he wants to pick a school.

Illinois offered the 5-foot-11, 178-pound wideout first.

He also holds offers from Indiana, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan, with interest from most  of the other Big Ten schools.

"I wouldn't say I have a favorite, but Illinois was the first to offer me and take the most interest in me, so that definitely plays a big role in my head," Nagel said. "That kind of means a lot to me that they were the first to believe in me, so Illinois is definitely going to stay up there through the whole process."

Nagel checked out the Illinois-Wisconsin game last Saturday, his first game in Champaign this season.

He was at Soldier Field a month ago for the Washington game, but it was his first opportunity to experience an Illinois game at Memorial Stadium.

"It's an awesome stadium," Nagel said. "Everything feels comfortable. All the players and coaches seem like they're building a real family and tradition here, so that's awesome to see."

Marist is playoff-eligible at 5-3 and could clinch a playoff berth this Friday with a win at Moline (Ill.) High School.  

"I don't have any other visits lined up," Nagel said. "Now, I'm getting ready for playoffs. I don't really have a timetable either. It's really just when it feels right and when I feel comfortable."

Nagel said the comparisons between his game and Wes Welker are inevitable.

"I think his releases and his ability to get open, I can compare myself to that, especially with my speed and quickness," Nagel said.

Playing alongside Nic Weishar, a Class of 2014 recruit who is committed to Notre Dame, has benefitted Nagel. Both on the field and with the recruiting process.

"First game, St. Rita came out and doubled Weishar, so I got single covered there," Nagel said. "Now that we're a little deeper in the season, I'm seeing more double coverage, but we're handling it well and our offensive coordinator is taking care of it. I'd say I'm handling (recruiting) pretty well. It's kind of stressful at times. Schools are always contacting you on Facebook and Twitter, but I kind of like it. It's fun and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

***
Nick Allegretti had to hold back tears a few weeks ago.

It isn't every day a high school football player gets honored with a selection to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, like the Class of 2014 Illinois and Lincoln-Way East center recently did.

"That was awesome," Allegretti said. "The whole team showed up and supported me. I've seen the game for years. It's just cool to be able to play in it."

***
Tito Odenigbo wore a bright orange Illinois hooded sweatshirt last Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

For the easy-going, personable defensive end from Centerville (Ohio) who was the first Illinois commit in the Class of 2014, he was soaking in the atmosphere.

With good reason.

"This is my first Illinois game of all-time in person," Odenigbo said. "I've been an Illinois fan for a while. I've watched them on TV for a number of years, but I've never had a chance to see them in person. It was a long drive, but it feels like home."

Odenigbo said he plans to finish his senior year at Centerville before arriving at Illinois next summer.

Illinois recruited him as a defensive end, but said he doesn't have a problem playing defensive tackle.

"We'll find out during camp in the summer," he said. "I can do either way. I can put on the weight and play d-tackle, but if they need me to play d-end, I'll play that."

And the grief he has received from some of his teammates and friends in Ohio for picking Illinois has subsided. A bit.

"They all knew that I was a big Illinois fan," Odenigbo said, "and that if they ever offered me, I'd take it in a second, which is what I did."

***
So far, Neuqua Valley receiver Mike Dudek, Newark (Ohio) Catholic quarterback Chayce Crouch and Iowa Western Community College receiver Geronimo Allison are three Class of 2014 commits for Illinois who are planning on enrolling early.

"I weighed the pros and cons," Dudek said. "The only con was I going to miss my second semester of my senior year, but I can still go back for prom and still walk at graduation. I had no reason not to come down here. It was the best decision for me."

Dudek said the bond between the Class of 2014 commits is strong.

"We're very tight," he said. "I feel like, with all these guys, I know a lot about them, even if I've only met them once or twice. We talk almost every day in our group text message chat we have, and everything is going well so far."

For a player of his offensive capabilities, the new offensive system Bill Cubit has shown this season has caught the attention of Dudek.

"It's real exciting seeing their offense compared to last year," he said. "It's like night and day. They're throwing the ball a lot and putting up some big numbers in the passing game, which is good as a receiver coming in. I'm excited to get here in December and start working."

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