Illinois football coach Lovie Smith didn’t have to introduce himself to the parents of his first in-state recruit in the Class of 2021.
Loyola center Josh Kreutz, who announced his commitment to the Illini via Twitter on Thursday night, is the son of longtime Bears center Olin Kreutz. The elder Kreutz played seven of his 14 NFL seasons under Smith with the Bears.
But Olin Kreutz didn’t push his son into playing for his old coach.
“He agreed with my decision,” Josh Kreutz said of his dad. “(But) he wanted me to make the decision.”
Loyola coach John Holecek, himself a former Illinois and NFL player, believes the Illini are getting a good one in Kreutz.
“Josh is a chip off the old block,” Holecek said. “He’s an undersized kid for the Big Ten [6-foot-2, 265 pounds]. But just like his dad, he’s going to improve himself and he’s going to be a heck of a player.
“Lovie knows what he’s getting.”
Kreutz, ranked as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, played through a finger injury last season that prevented him from playing center full-time.
“He’s extremely athletic and competitive,” Holecek said. “Completely healthy, he’s scary.”
Like other prospects, Kreutz saw his recruiting process upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. He did some virtual visits and Zoom calls.
In the end, he said, “I felt like I got a good fit at Illinois.”