Joliet Catholic junior running back Malin Jones, who had offers from Illinois and Iowa, ended his recruitment early and verbally committed to Northwestern Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald.
"There are some other schools that didn't know he would commit this early and probably thought they had time," Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp said. "He's a kid who knows what he wants. He's very close to his family. He wants to stay in the state.
"He's very impressed with Pat Fitzgerald. Pat runs an unbelievable program. There's a family feeling around Northwestern a lot like there is here at Joliet Catholic."
The 6-2, 200-pound Jones has been key to the Hilltoppers' 8-1 record this season. He's rushed for 869 yards and nine touchdowns on 77 carries. He's averaging 11.3 yards per run. He's also had to share his carries with senior Josh Ferguson, an Illinois recruit.
"He has power and speed," Sharp said of Jones. "He hits the hole extremely hard. He uses his blocking well. He has deceptive speed. He has a similar style to Eric Dickerson and Adrian Peterson. He has the skills to be a great Big Ten football player."
Sharp, of course, will have a difficult time rooting for anyone when Northwestern and Illinois play in the future with Jones and Ferguson both carrying the ball.
"They're very good friends," Sharp said. "It definitely could be interesting the last week of the Big Ten when the rival teams meet up. That's going to be kind of special with those two guys. The great thing about the situation is we have Malin Jones for one more year. I'm the lucky one. I hate to lose Josh, but it'll be great to have one of those guys back for the Hilltoppers."