George's son heading to Illinois
Jeff George Jr. knows Memorial Stadium.
Knows Champaign-Urbana. Knows the Illinois campus.
"But I don't know if I have one exact memory from there," he said, "I've been going up there for a while, though."
He will become even more familiar with Illinois in the future, too.
The namesake of Jeff George, the former Illinois quarterback who was the top pick in the 1990 NFL Draft after two superb seasons with the Illini, will make Illinois his college destination, too.
The quarterback from Indianapolis Warren Central committed to Illinois on Tuesday, accepting a grayshirt scholarship offer from Tim Beckman.
"It's an extreme relief," said George Jr., who led Warren Central to a Class 6A state title two months ago. "This whole process was extremely stressful. I'm just so glad it worked out this way."
George Jr. visited SMU this past weekend, which came after he took an official visit two weeks ago to Illinois.
George Jr. didn't have an offer yet from June Jones and the Mustangs, but indicated one might have come his way in a month.
He also said Maryland and Nebraska started to express more interest recently, but no offers were handed out from those two schools.
"It really came down to Illinois and SMU," George Jr. said. "My dad, my mom and myself went through the pros and the cons of each school. Illinois was just the best fit for me."
George Jr. isn't eligible to play next season since he will grayshirt, so the earliest he could possibly see the field is in 2015.
George Jr., at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, is a pro-style quarterback, and will still have four seasons of eligibility.
He threw for 1,854 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this past fall for the Warriors, who finished 11-3.
"I commit, but the way I describe it to people is they're offering a senior like he's a junior," he said, "so that you're not on scholarship for the next football season, but come that next spring is when the scholarship kicks in."
The fact that Champaign-Urbana is only a two-hour drive from Indianapolis, along with his comfort factor with the school and relationships he built with Beckman, offensive coordinator Bill Cubit and wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy — who caught passes from George Jr.'s dad 25 years ago — Illinois seemed like the right move for George Jr. to make.
He indicated his dad didn't try to persuade him one way or another. Honestly.
"Not really, actually," George Jr. said. "He really just completley left it up to me and said, 'Wherever you think you'll be happiest, go with that.' Illinois was that place for me."
Texas DB picks Illinois. The recruiting process is different for every prospect.
Some are offered early. Some are offered late.
Some make plenty of visits. Some make only one visit.
Some decide early. Some decide late.
The latter scenarios laid out above all played out for Chris James, a cornerback from West Orange-Stark (Texas) High School who committed to Illinois on Tuesday.
"I was just waiting for a big school to come along and offer me," James said. "I visited Illinois last weekend and they offered (Tuesday). It came on me fast, but it feels great."
A verbal pledge to Illinois soon followed, and James is expected to sign his letter of intent at 10 a.m. today, less than 24 hours after he committed to the Illini.
James is the third third defensive back in this class for Illinois, joining Julian Hylton from Lincoln-Way North and Tyree Stone-Davis from Pierce (Calif.) College.
Illinois offensive line coach A.J. Ricker and defensive coordinator Tim Banks were the lead recruiters on James.
Iowa State was the only other FBS offer James had, along with a handful of FCS offers.
"My coverage is going to be one of my strengths, along with my open-field tackling," James said. "I'm fast, but I want to get a lot faster, and I know I need to improve on using my hands better."