Thursday, November 17, 2011
Ron Zook continues to land recruits
By Scott Powers ESPNChicago.com
Despite questions over his job security, Illinois coach Ron Zook has landed three more Class of 2012 commitments, including one of the nation's top linebackers.
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Bolingbrook senior offensive lineman Robbie Bain and Norland (Miami, Fla.) linebackers Keith Brown and Lamar Atkins have committed to the Illini.
Brown, who is 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, is ranked the No. 27 outside linebacker by ESPN and becomes Zook's highest-ranked Class of 2012 recruit. Brown previously committed to Miami.
"Brown is a physical linebacker, a tackling machine that will see immediate playing time at Illinois," ESPN Southeast Recruiting writer Corey Long said. "He's a defensive playmaker and that always fills a major need. Brown has sideline-to-sideline capabilities and rarely takes a play off. He's also a student of the game and the history of linebackers at Illinois did appeal to him."
Zook, who previously coached at Florida, has continued to having recruiting success in the Sunshine State. He had five Florida commitments in each of his classes from 2009-11 and had six in 2008. He's had at least one Florida commitment in every recruiting class since becoming Illinois' coach in 2005.
Illinois now has four Florida commitments in its 2012 class. Tajarvis Fuller, who is ranked the No. 43 outside linebacker, and safety Taylor Barton were previously committed to the Illini from the state.
"Ron Zook has strong ties in Florida from his time as head coach of the Florida Gators and that allows him to get in the hunt for players like Brown and Tajarvis Fuller," Long said. "After successfully recruiting Corey Liuget a few years ago there's no player in Florida he can't get to at least take a look at Illinois."
The 6-foot, 205-pound Atkins could be a contributor down the line for the Illini.
"Atkins is going to be a young man that will need some time to develop and grow, but he likes engaging in the physical play as well, and if fans are patient he'll be a major contributor after a redshirt year and a year playing special teams," Long said.
Bain, who is 6-foot-3 and 267 pounds, is Illinois' third 2012 in-state recruit. Bain recently was offered by Illinois and has been key to Bolingbrook's offensive success this season. The Raiders will play in the Class 8A semifinals on Saturday.
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.