CHAMPAIGN — Matt Domer is used to winning.
Playing for a storied program like Chicago Mount Carmel makes the feeling second nature.
The running back wants to continue winning at Memorial Stadium like he experienced last November, when he and his Caravan teammates won a Class 8A state title in Champaign.
He’s banking on the Illinois football program turning it around.
Domer gave an oral commitment to Illinois on Tuesday, becoming the eighth player in the Class of 2014 to give his word to Tim Beckman’s Illini.
He is the first running back and the most high-profile name of the eight.
“It’s real big to be able to walk around your home state and be recognized as a good player,” Domer said. “Illinois had a rough season last year, but I want to be a part of something that is different and shape something so the younger kids have a different view of the program.
“When people look up and see that a recruit like me decided to come here, maybe younger kids will take that into consideration.”
Domer rushed for 1,370 yards on 155 carries last season for Chicago Mount Carmel and rushed for 20 touchdowns in his junior season.
He had offers from eight schools — Illinois, Boston College, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, Northern Illinois, Syracuse and Western Michigan — and had narrowed his list to four schools. Illinois stood out ahead of Indiana, Kansas and Syracuse, his three other finalists.
“I was really talking to Coach Beckman a lot, and they stressed to me that they needed me to be an in-state player who came to Illinois,” said Domer, who checks in at 6-foot, 188 pounds. “They really, really gave me the attention that I liked. I was always told to pick a school that wants you and you want them back. I could definitely see that with Illinois.”
Domer — who had Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit and Illinois running backs coach Tim Salem as his main recruiters — is the fourth in-state player in the Class of 2014, joining Lincoln-Way East center Nick Allegretti, Neuqua Valley wide receiver Mike Dudek and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin wide receiver Malik Turner. Quarterback Chayce Crouch from Newark (Ohio) Catholic, defensive lineman Tito Odenigbo from Centerville (Ohio), linebacker Austin Roberts from Rice Lake (Wis.) and linebacker Henry McGrew from Blue Valley (Kan.) are the other recruits Beckman’s staff has lined up.
Domer visited the Illinois campus Monday night and left early Tuesday afternoon. Before he headed north to Chicago, he informed Beckman of his decision.
“I was actually on the phone with Coach Beckman,” Domer said. “He was still stressing how I needed to be an in-state player, and then I said, ‘I’m all in.’ He kept on talking. He didn’t hear me at first, but then he got very excited.”
Domer is relieved the recruiting process is wrapped up.
“It takes a lot off me,” he said. “Now I can focus on getting a second straight state title.”