If any Illinois football fans are nervous about Trotwood-Madison (Ohio) High School defensive lineman Jarrod Clements going back on his verbal commitment to Illinois football head coach Tim Beckman like his high school teammate Reon Dawson did, Rams head coach Maurice Douglass has one word in mind.
"He's not going nowhere," Douglass said of the 6-foot-2-inch Clements, who has increased his weight from 275 pounds to between 285-290 pounds. "He loves Coach Beckman, and if he would have stayed at Toledo, he would have committed there just because of the relationship."
Douglass conjures up a former Illinois player when describing Clements: Corey Liuget, who just finished his second season with the San Diego Chargers by starting all 16 games and making 51 tackles to go along with seven sacks.
"There's probably a lot of similarities between those two," Douglass said. ""He'll probably be a defensive tackle, a very athletic defensive tackle (at Illinois). He still has defensive end moves as a tackle, so he's a really athletic, big guy."
Clements missed portions of his senior season at Trotwood-Madison with a knee injury he sustained shortly after he committed to Illinois last May, but still managed to play in eight games of his senior season for Trotwood-Madison, compiling 39 tackles, six sacks and four tackles for loss.
"He ended up coming back a lot quicker than we thought, and he was just as strong as he was before," Douglass said. "He ended up having a pretty good year for us."
While Washington, D.C., was a pipeline for former Illinois head coach Ron Zook and his staff, Trotwood-Madison, a school of 1,163 students located 10 miles northwest of Dayton, might fit that bill for Illinois under Beckman.
Douglass and Beckman have had a long-standing relationship, dating back to when they were students together at the University of Kentucky.
"We got a little relationship going there going," Douglass said. "When I first came (to KentuckY) out of a junior college, we were in contact and friends , and it stayed that way when he was the defensive coordinator at Bowling Green and when he became the defensive backs coach at Ohio State, and then when he went to Oklahoma State and Toledo."
Douglass also has close ties with Illinois defensive back coach Steve Clinkscale, dating back to Clinkscale's playing and coaching days at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio.
"We've had some great relationships that have been formed over the years with those guys," Douglass said.
Which doesn't make it surprising that Clements might not be the only Trotwood-Madison player to find its way to Champaign-Urbana.
Douglass said four Rams in the Class of 2014 (defensive tackle Ryan Reese, defensive end Verondtae Wilkinson, wide receiver Kendric Mallory and running back Ashton Jackson) have scholarship offers from Illinois along with two Trotwood-Madison players in the Class of 2015 (cornerbacks Kei Beckham and Harrison Johnson).
Jackson (a 5-10, 181) has most of the Big Ten interested in him while Illinois is the best offer so far for Reese (6-1, 308), Wilkinson (6-2, 226), Mallory (6-2, 174), Beckham (5-11, 169) and Johnson (5-9, 160).
Douglass thinks brighter days are ahead for Beckman at Illinois after a 2-10 debut.
"They had a lot of potential (last year)," Douglass said. "With those guys having so many guys that got hurt and were unable to perform, it was tough seeing them go through that after seeing the success they had at Toledo and knowing what they're capable of as a coaching staff."