Bret Bielema wants to make Illinois football relevant again by recruiting in-state talent.
Joliet Catholic’s Jordan Anderson and Brother Rice’s Henry Boyer want to help him make it happen.
Bielema added his first two local recruits in the class of 2022 last week when Anderson and Boyer announced their commitments on Twitter.
Illinois has eight recruits in what will be Bielema’s first full class after replacing Lovie Smith in December. That list includes two other in-state players: Iroquois West offensive guard Clayton Leonard and Rochester wide receiver Hank Beaty.
“We’re trying to get it back going, get all the Illinois recruits to go there,” said Anderson, a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder.
“They seem like really good, genuine guys,” Boyer said of Bielema and his assistants, including Thornton grad Terrance Jamison. “You get a feeling they’re trying to build a program from the ground up.”
One of the foundations of Bielema’s successful teams at Wisconsin was a stout running game centered around a big, powerful back. That describes Anderson, a consensus three-star prospect ranked 16th among Illinois juniors by 247Sports.com.
He was one of the breakout stars of the abbreviated pandemic season, earning Sun-Times All-Area honors after rushing for 1,080 yards and 18 touchdowns in only six games.
Anderson is glad to have his college decision made so he can concentrate on what figures to be a special fall season for the Hilltoppers, who will be one of the top teams in Class 5A.
“I wanted to go in, commit and basically not think about the whole process anymore,” Anderson said. “Go into the season and think about winning a title.”
Boyer, a 6-7, 250-pound tight end rated 17th among Illinois juniors by 247Sports.com, wasn’t as far along in his recruiting process as Anderson.
But when Boyer saw what Illinois had to offer, he saw no reason to wait on other schools to get involved.
“Illinois has everything I want,” Boyer said. “I just decided to pull the trigger.”
Like Anderson, he’s glad to be able to focus on what will be a quick turnaround to his final prep season. Practice is barely three months away with games to start Aug. 27.
“It’s definitely a weight lifted off your shoulders, my family’s shoulders,” Boyer said of the commitment.