Running back Mikale Wilbon felt wanted and inspired by Illinois' first-year coach Tim Beckman.
“His persuasion is real good, the speech he gave -- it was a great experience even though they lost,” the junior said after Purdue's 20-17 victory. “I went to one of the meeting rooms and it had a poster of me and [teammate] Jamarco [Jones] on this big [wall] saying we are the future. That was nice.”
The poster made a big impression on Wilbon, who has an offer from the Illini as well as Iowa and Purdue.
“It shows he really cares and we’re real important to the organization and programs,” Wilbon said, “and that’s what I look for in colleges and coaches. I want them to be real cool with the recruits and he really was.”
It was the first game-day visit to Illinois for Wilbon this season, although he checked out several games as a sophomore. While the crowd was not as intense as it was at times last season, Wilbon understands Beckman and his first-year staff are working to turn the Illini around.
“I know they’re doing a rebuilding year so next year should be better with their fan base,” he said.
Wilbon also talked with assistants Luke Butkus and running backs coach Tim Salem. Wilbon said it was good to reconnect with both coaches.
The attention Wilbon received from the coaches Saturday has him high on the program as he continues to add interest and offers.
“After this trip, they really are put in consideration because it was a good visit,” he said. “I’m going to keep them in mind.”
Wilbon will visit Ohio State this coming Saturday for the Michigan game.