Morgan Park’s Tysean Griffin, Lyons’ Eddie Tuerk commit to Illinois

Last week, the Fighting Illini picked up commitments from two highly sought-after recruits: Morgan Park standout Tysean Griffin and Lyons two-way lineman Eddie Tuerk.

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Morgan Park’s Tysean Griffin (1) stiff arms Amundsen’s Lamar Lane (81) at Gately Stadium last season.

Morgan Park’s Tysean Griffin (1) stiff arms Amundsen’s Lamar Lane (81) at Gately Stadium last season.

Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun-Times

Making Illinois the destination of choice for the top football prospects in the state was coach Bret Bielema’s goal from the day he was hired.

It wasn’t going to happen overnight, but Bielema’s efforts have been paying off.

Last week, the Fighting Illini picked up commitments from two highly sought-after recruits: Morgan Park standout Tysean Griffin and Lyons two-way lineman Eddie Tuerk.

They’re tied for 12th among Illinois players in the Class of 2024, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings, and they’re Bielema’s highest-ranked recruits in that class.

Griffin said he definitely felt the love from the Illini staff.

‘‘What stood out was they [were] speaking to me more and recruiting me more,’’ he said.

Tuerk also took note of Bielema’s local focus and appreciated it.

‘‘I feel like there definitely needs to be a culture of getting the top talent in the state to stay in Illinois,’’ he said, noting the addition of Simeon’s Malik Elzy in the Class of 2023 as a successful example of that strategy.

Tuerk also was drawn by the Illini’s coaching expertise on both sides of the line of scrimmage, ‘‘the openness and willingness to develop me on either side of the ball and having one of the best, if not the best, defensive line coach [Terrance Jamison] and one of the best offensive line coaches [Bart Miller].’’

Then there’s Bielema, whose experience in college and as a Super Bowl champion assistant with the Patriots also helped sway Tuerk.

‘‘Those are the people I want to be around,’’ he said.

Griffin, a 5-11, 185-pounder, also has potential on both sides of the ball, Rivals recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove said.

‘‘He’s a kid I really like in the secondary as a safety,’’ Cosgrove said. ‘‘He’s just as good on offense.’’

Offensively, Griffin might be an eventual replacement for dynamic quarterback-turned-receiver Isaiah Williams.

‘‘Very similar skill set,’’ Cosgrove said. ‘‘He’s just so good in space, and that’s where they see him. He could be All-Big Ten on either side of the ball.’’

While Tuerk, who’s 6-4 and 280 pounds, could play on either line, Cosgrove sees him on offense.

‘‘He could be one of the top interior offensive linemen in the country,’’ Cosgrove said. ‘‘Just a very smart, heady, strong football player.’’

That Illinois beat out multiple SEC programs, Michigan and Miami, among others, to land Tuerk shows Bielema can keep elite talent home. Ditto for Griffin, who also had multiple SEC and Big Ten offers.

It also demonstrates Bielema’s ability to raise the overall talent level in the program. Before Bielema arrived, the Illini routinely showed up at the bottom of the Big Ten recruiting rankings.

They’re still 10th in the 247Sports composite rankings for the rising senior class, but they’re 37th nationally.

Bielema’s 11-member class includes two more in-state prospects: Pinckneyville tight end Karsen Konkel and Mundelein offensive tackle Brandon Hansen.

‘‘There is some buzz,’’ Cosgrove said of the Illini. ‘‘I think they’re one of the best-coached teams in the conference. I think they’re in that mid-[recruiting] tier now. They’re passing teams up.’’

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