Illini track got leg up on sprinter

Jeremy Boudreau doesn't need to seek out the attention of college recruiters anymore.

Not since placing fifth in the 200 meters in the U.S. Indoor Scholastic Championship meet earlier this year. And particularly not since last Friday, when he ran the outdoor 200 in 20.9 seconds, the fastest in the nation by a prep this year.

But there was a time when the Edmond, Okla., sprinter needed to promote his then-overlooked talents with a recruiting service newsletter.

"I think initially the objective was to get people interested in these kids in football," University of Illinois men's track assistant coach Tom Doyle said Thursday.

Doyle's objective, of course, is to identify and sign the top prospects in his sport. And what the Illini recruiting coordinator spotted in the newsletter under the 6-foot-4 Boudreau's name got his attention immediately.

"He was a state champion in the 400 with a good time but not an eye-popping time," Doyle said. "But he had 10.4 (seconds) hand-timed in the 100. That is just crazy leg speed for someone 6-4."

Immediately intrigued, Doyle was among the first recruiters to contact Boudreau.

"That's one of the reasons I liked them," Boudreau said.

He liked the Illini enough to turn down a full scholarship – a rarity in college track – from Florida State. Enough to tell nearby Oklahoma University it was too slow in showing interest. Enough to tell Indiana and Kansas football recruiters no thanks.

And, ultimately, enough to tell the Illini track staff he'd be glad to sign on the dotted line.

"They really impressed me," Boudreau said Thursday, a day after signing a national letter of intent with the UI. "It's a great academic school, and (sprint coach) Willie Williams really impressed me."

Doyle says videotape on Boudreau sold the Illini staff on the Santa Fe High School senior.

"I showed it to Coach Williams, and it didn't take a lot to detect that this kid was going to run really, really fast," Doyle said. "A tall man with leg speed is a stud."

Boudreau was among four preps to sign with the Illini on Wednesday, the first day of the spring signing period.

Also committing were middle distance runners Fabien Carron of Nice, France, and Matt Saarima of Geneva; and hurdler/high jumper Sherman Armstrong of Chicago Luther South.

Dallas prep signs.

Creston Whitaker, currently hitting .486 for Jesuit College Preparatory in Dallas, has signed with the UI baseball program.

The 5-10 switch-hitter has not been thrown out in 24 steal attempts this season.

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