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BRADENTON, Fla. — Bret Bielema now possesses 15 verbal commitments in his Class of 2022.

The latest arrived Saturday night, when IMG Academy wide receiver Shawn Miller pledged to Illinois football via Twitter.

The Illini currently utilize the services of three products who attended the Florida-based prep school: offensive lineman Verdis Brown, receiver Brian Hightower and quarterback Artur Sitkowski, who transferred from Rutgers earlier this offseason.

Miller is a three-star prospect by Rivals and 247sports. The 6-foot-1, 193-pound athlete also held offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Indiana, Liberty, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State, Syracuse, UNLV and West Virginia.

Miller caught 12 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns during his junior season with IMG Academy.

Media Days reps picked. Three super-seniors will represent Illinois football during its upcoming Big Ten Media Days session in Indianapolis.

Outside linebacker Owen Carney Jr. and offensive linemen Doug Kramer and Vederian Lowe have been chosen to speak Thursday on behalf of the Illini.

The picks were announced Sunday evening.

This is the first Big Ten football Media Days event since 2019, as the 2020 version was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Then-Illinois coach Lovie Smith sent running back Reggie Corbin, cornerback Nate Hobbs and offensive lineman Alex Palczewski to the 2019 spectacle.

Hansen recognized. Returning Illinois linebacker Jake Hansen was named to the Bednarik Award preseason watch list on Monday. The award is given to college football’s defensive player of the year.

Hansen was named to the award’s watch list last year among three such lists (Butkus Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy) and was a 2019 semifinalist for the Butkus Award, bestowed upon top linebackers at the high school, college and professional levels.

The super-senior Hansen announced in March that he was returning to Illinois for a sixth season after previously declaring for the NFL draft. He’s currently tied for third in Illini history in career forced fumbles with 10.

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports 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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