CHAMPAIGN — Illinois football expanded the scope of its recruiting footprint this offseason with the hires of defensive line coaches Al Davis and Jimmy Lindsey.
Davis is a Georgia native.
Lindsey coached and recruited primarily in the southeastern part of the United States the past 20 years.
While Florida and Texas have been Illinois’ go-to recruiting grounds in the Lovie Smith era, the hires of Davis and Lindsey opened up new opportunities in Georgia.
Opportunities the Illini have taken advantage of this month with the commitments of Class of 2021 three-star athlete Prince Green and, on Wednesday, fellow 2021 recruit, Georgia native and three-star defensive end Sedarius McConnell.
McConnell’s commitment continued a rather fruitful recruiting month for Illinois after months of inactivity on the commitment front in the Class of 2021.
Recruiting momentum from the high-school ranks might still be at a low simmer — the Illini’s class still ranks last in the Big Ten — but McConnell is the program’s third 2021 commit this month and fourth total.
McConnell’s commitment follows the likes of Green, a Griffin, Ga., native, and Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter linebacker Trevor Moffitt, who gave their verbal pledge to the Illini earlier this month. The fourth member of the 2021 class, who committed last December, is DeSoto (Texas) quarterback Samari Collier.
Illinois’ other recruiting successes this month came via the transfer portal with graduate transfer additions that will bolster the Illini roster for the upcoming 2020 season. Louisville transfer safety TreSean Smith has two years of eligibility remaining and could contend for a starting spot after Stanley Green exhausted his eligibility. Cal transfer Chinedu Udeogu has one season of eligibility and will provide more depth at defensive tackle.
McConnell’s addition for the 2021 season also shores up a coming depth issue given the departure of defensive ends Owen Carney Jr., Isaiah Gay and Marc Mondesir after the 2020 season. McConnell, a 6-foot-2, 259-pound defensive end, had 65 tackles and eight sacks in his junior season at Westlake High School in Atlanta.
McConnell wound up a consensus three-star recruit after his commitment to Illinois. Rivals already had him ranked as a three-star prospect and No. 90 overall recruit in the state of Georgia before he committed. While he was unranked by 247Sports early Wednesday afternoon, he had claimed three-star status as the No. 82 recruit in Georgia a few hours later.
McConnell chose Illinois amidst several other Power 5 offers. He initially named a top six of Kansas, Louisville, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest on April 3. Then Illinois offered on April 17 and, ultimately, closed out his recruitment. McConnell’s other offers included Coastal Carolina, Duke, Liberty, Toledo and West Virginia.