Joliet Catholic’s Malachi Hood was going to wait a while before committing, which makes sense.
The junior linebacker didn’t have a Division I offer until last week, when he picked up one during a workout at Illinois.
“Before the (Illinois) visit, I was trying to keep my eyes open a little longer,” Hood said.
But when he heard what the Illini coaches had to say and saw the facilities they had to offer, Hood switched gears.
“Everything was second to none,” he said Monday, a few hours after announcing his commitment to Illinois on Twitter.
Hood is the Illini’s second recruit from Joliet Catholic in the Class of 2022, joining running back Jordan Anderson.
“We train together every day,” said Hood, who is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports.com. “He’s been in my ear about it. It’s been a dream of us to play together.”
Hood and Anderson are among eight total recruits and five from Illinois for first-year coach Bret Bielema, who has made no secret of his desire to keep local talent home. The class is ranked sixth in the Big Ten and 29th among FBS schools by 247Sports.
“I was talking to a lot of schools,” said Hood, a 6-2, 210-pounder. “A lot of them wanted to see me in person. I was getting nervous, (thinking), ‘Are these schools going to take a chance on me?’”
Linebackers coach Andy Buh made it clear to Hood the Illini’s interest was real.
“He said they were bringing in some other linebackers, but ‘we want to prioritize the in-state kids,’” Hood said.
Now that Hood and Anderson are on board, they’ll be trying to sell the Illinois program to other recruits.
“Coach (Bielema) talked about how he wants us to bring the best players to him,” Hood said.