ARTHUR (WCIA) — When Bret Bielema took the Illinois football job, he promised to reconnect the program to high school players and coaches across the state. So far he’s kept his promise, which is why Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond sophomore Kaden Feagin is already receiving interest from the Illini.
“I was coming home from school and my mom called me crying, I thought something was wrong,” Feagin said. “Coach says, ‘Don’t be nervous, but you’re about to talk to Bret Bielema.’ So I get on the phone with him and he says I have an offer. It was crazy, I was not expecting it.”
Feagin made the call to Bielema Friday, right before his first game of the season. The Illini staff didn’t commit to recruiting the running back to a certain position but told ALAH coach Ryan Jefferson kids of Feagin’s size usually play wide receiver or tight end. To the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, he just loves to have the ball in his hands.
“Running back, slot receiver, receiver,” Feagin said about a few of the positions he can play.
“He also has the ability to play safety, linebacker, defensive end,” Jefferson said. “That’ll be kind of neat to to see what schools view him as, and then he gets kind of a say in where he gets to go.”
Feagin got on the school’s radar after Jefferson’s sent his tape to an Illini assistant coach. Bielema’s message was all about building something within the state, something Feagin believes they can do.
“That outreach that we made to 500 high school coaches has really been invaluable,” Bielema said. “To be the state school, to be representative as the University of Illinois to talk to those high school coaches and now talk to those high school players.”
“It meant a lot” Feagin said about Bielema’s effort to connect in-state kids with Illinois. “I like how he’s staying local, getting everyone around here, because we have a lot of talent in Central Illinois.”
The Illini are the first and only offer for Feagin at the moment but another Big Ten school is already interested and plans to reach out next week.