It is no surprise that first-year Illinois coach Tim Beckman is making the fertile recruiting grounds of Ohio a priority given his ties to the area, but few could have imagined the Fighting Illini would be as active in the Buckeye State as they've been in the 2013 class.
On Tuesday evening, the Illini, who have 14 total commitments, picked up their sixth verbal from Ohio.
Defensive end Dawuane Smoot (Groveport, Ohio/Groveport Madison) committed to Illinois over offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, Toledo and a handful of other MAC programs.
“A lot was going through my head,” Smoot said. “I was looking through depth charts. What it came down to was the depth chart and the academics.
“It’s a comfortable fit where I can get my degree. That really made my decision.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Smoot is the fifth defensive line commitment for the Illini but the first at defensive end.
Despite playing along the line, Smoot said he and tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh shared the strongest bond among the Illini staff.
“We just been clowning around. He’s funny. He made everything good, comfortable,” Smoot said. “He made everything great about the university. I feel like I’m going to be great at that university.