CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — After just four in-state recruits had signed over the past two season, Illinois head coach Bret Bielema righted that wrong in his first recruiting class at Illinois with 10 in-state guys signing their National Letter of Intent Wednesday.

Reestablishing the Illini within state borders has always been part of the plan for Bielema, but he was faced with more challenges besides that in crafting his first class. Dealing with extra years for COVID eligibility, the transfer portal, and a lack of depth now along the line. That was one of the things kept in mind when building the class.

“I think it embodies what we believe in, we have a strong foundation of defensive lineman and offensive lineman,” says Bielema. “Especially offensive lineman, we signed five high school players, one college player. Just because of pure numbers. I knew I was losing potentially five of the top six players in that group. To get them and build them has been a huge part of this class.”

Early Signing Period is still open until Friday. All 22 Illini commits signed Wednesday.