Bret Bielema received some good news about his offensive line in recent days.

Veteran linemen Isaiah Adams, Jordyn Slaughter and Julian Pearl each announced recently via Twitter that he was remaining with the Illinois football program for the 2023 season.

But those declarations were followed by some disappointment in the trenches for the Illini.

East Carolina offensive line transfer Avery Jones took to Twitter on Tuesday and posted an image of himself wearing an Auburn jersey, along with the word "committed" in Tigers orange.

This follows Jones making a verbal commitment to Illinois on Dec. 12.

Jones was a three-year starter with the Pirates after transferring from North Carolina. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound native of North Carolina started the final eight games East Carolina's 2020 season at left guard. He then made the move to center for the Pirates' 2021 campaign, starting 11 of 12 games at that position.

Jones led East Carolina's offense with 852 snaps at center this fall. Jones finished the season as the Pirates' second-highest graded starting offensive lineman and had a 76.9 grade as a pass blocker, per Pro Football Focus. He would've had one year of eligibility with the Illlini.

Jones' change of heart hits Illinois especially hard, considering sixth-year seniors Alex Palczewski and Alex Pihlstrom have exhausted their college eligibility on the offensive line.


Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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