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June 23, 2012
After recently picking up an offer from the Fighting Illini, 2014 prospect Nile Sykes made the trip to Champaign for an unofficial visit. After the visit, Sykes played for the AWP All-Star traveling team out of Indiana during the Illini's 7-on-7 camp.
"It was a great experience," Sykes said after the camp. "I got to play with AWP because I was originally up here just for a visit. Illinois had offered me this past Wednesday so I came for a visit."
Sykes is a 6-foot-3, 220 pound defensive end out of Oak Park River Forest High School in suburban Chicago. A rangy defender with size, Sykes was easily one of the top underclassmen at the camp. He will be one of the top recruiting targets for the Illini in 2014.
In the morning before the camp, Sykes was given the tour of the academic and football facilities. This is his second trip to Illinois in the last few weeks.
"I got a little tour of the campus and some of the buildings like the dormitories, and I got to the see the weight room. I was also out here on June 3rd for the Nike Football Training Camp and got to play in Memorial Stadium."
Sykes came away from the visit impressed with the coaching staff and all that the University of Illinois has to offer. Assistant coach Mike Ward is recruiting Sykes for the Illini. Sykes met Ward at an Illini satellite camp, and has stayed in steady contact.
"It's an awesome school," Sykes said. "It's a big campus, and it looks like a place where I would be comfortable. The whole coaching staff is great. Coach Ward is a nice guy. I just met him when I went to the Illinois camp at Barrington."
Sykes talked about the offer he received from the Illini, and it looks like Illinois will be strongly in the mix for Sykes until the end.
"It's huge," Sykes said about the offer. "Its in-state, it's close to home and I have some friends who have gone here. It's a great school, great academics, and if it came down it I would love to be here. "
On the recruiting front, Sykes is getting strong Big Ten interest with more offers likely to come his way soon. He won't make an early decision.
"Illinois is my only Big Ten offer so far," Sykes said. "I have Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Miami (Ohio). Michigan State and Wisconsin set me letters. Also Indiana and Nebraska. I still have my junior and senior seasons left so I'm going to wait it out. Out of all of the offers that I get I'm going to choose a place that best fits me."
In the Illinois defense, Sykes likely projects as a "Will" linebacker or the rush end position called the "Leo" if he bulks up some.
"I play hard and fast and I'm physical," Sykes said. "I like being around the ball, so that's why I love playing the linebacker position. I love to fill the gaps. I also play defensive end, and I love to rush the quarterback. I think I will probably play linebacker in college because of my size."