There is just so much to love about what the new Illinois football coaching staff has done so far in the short time they have been in Champaign.
Multiple new commitments to finish out the class of 2021 and, already, the Illini have two pledges for 2022, both of whom are top 1000 recruits. I wasn’t sure what type of class Bret Bielema would have in year one, but he is quickly proving that this is going to be a class that builds the foundation for future success.
Adding to the class piece by piece is important. Continuing to build on the early success needs to happen often. Illinois has been targeting a wide range of talented players, and one of the biggest targets on the board is Selah Brown.
Brown, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive end, has just about every program in the nation coming after him. It doesn’t come as a surprise he has roughly 18 scholarship offers already on the books. Brown is a four-star recruit who is ranked as the No. 345 player in the class of 2022 and the No. 25 athlete in the nation. He is also the No. 4 player coming out of the state of Kentucky.
Yes, the Louisville Male High School star is slotted by 247Sports as an “athlete”, but Brown is confident in his position entering the college ranks. He chatted with the Writing Illini about where he plans to play at the next level.
“I’m a defensive end, so I will be playing on the d-line wherever I decided to go, pass-rushing off the edge.”
Illinois has a lot of great pass rushers on the team right now, but Bielema has a history of developing some of the best defensive linemen in the game. Just ask that guy named, J.J. Watt. I think you have heard of him.
So, when Bielema sees a talented defensive end who he believes could get to the next level, that is something everyone should take seriously. Bielema let Brown know how much of a priority he is to the Illinois football program.
“In February, Coach (Bret) Bielema gave me a phone call. He sounded very excited! We talked for a minute about each other and he told me that he has been previously watching me and wanted me to know that I am a major priority for the football program. I was excited once he told me that he is extending a full-ride scholarship to me!”
When talented “athletes” get to the next level, some college coaches want to switch the recruit’s position. That isn’t the case in this situation.
“Coach B sees me as an edge rusher too, and he believes he can develop me into a pro defensive lineman.”
The Illinois football target knows what he needs to work on.
To get to the NFL, skill development has to take place. Bielema would help a player like Brown in this department, but being the No. 345 player in the nation means there is already some development going on in Brown’s game. Brown knows, though, that there are certain things he needs to work on during his final season of high school football.
“I want to work on my technique and new moves, as well as toning up my muscle and becoming stronger. Just learning how to be even more dominant in my position on the field and to keep being the best!”
Brown has mentioned that Illinois is making him a priority for the class of 2022, but there are quite a few teams that want the talented pass rusher to join their program. With so many options on the table, Brown let the Writing Illini in on what he is looking for at the next level.
“I’m just looking for the right place to call home, man. I want to feel welcomed, a brotherhood. I want to relate to everyone there. I want the coaching staff not to just like me as a football player but like me just for me as a person too. I don’t want any part of a school that is all about football, football, football, because if they are not about developing me as a young man OFF the field, then there is no point because one day, football has to come to an end, and I need to have something to do. Family/Respect is big, and honestly, I just want to have fun!”
The Louisville product knows exactly what he wants in a program. When looking at 247Sports, four different “experts” have Brown heading to the Louisville Cardinals. It doesn’t look like that is the case right now, though.
“Lol, I don’t have any favorites, so that is false.”
Brown did mention that he has yet to have a virtual visit with the Illini but wants to in the near future. They aren’t the only program that has been showing love to the top 400 recruit, though. Some of the other teams prioritizing Brown right now include Northwestern, West Virginia, Virginia, Boston College and, yes, Louisville.
There isn’t a top list release date or a commitment date in mind just yet, as Brown is taking the recruiting game one step at a time. But, when that day comes and Brown does announce a decision, some team is going to be getting a kid who has a bright future and level head.