Illini Recruiting Hot Board: Top DB Targets to Watch For Illinois’ 2021 Class

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The one position group the Illinois football coaching staff has addressed in bulk during the coronavirus pandemic is defensive back.

The Illini have received verbal commitments from Daniel Edwards, Joriell Washington and Prince Green all while everything has been a Zoom video meeting and phone call. None of those three prospects from the southeast portion of the nation have even seen the campus.

With Illinois knowing they are going to lose four scholarship defensive backs to graduation (Tony Adams, Nate Hobbs, Kendall Smith and Nick Walker), Lovie Smith’s has done an excellent job of restocking the talent and speed in that positional group with Florida and Georgia products that were overlooked by the Power Five Conference schools in their home area.

The likelihood is Illinois might only need one or two more signees in the defensive backfield so we took a look at the possibilities left on the 2021 board for Lovie Smith’s staff.

Since May 1, Illinois football has seen its number of commitments in its 2021 recruiting class rise from one to 10. Illini Now/Sports Illustrated wants to give you some names to watch as we get to the summer months and Lovie Smith’s program attempts to fill out what should be its largest class in recent years.

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DEFENSIVE BACKS

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Justin Macias Jr. - Hempstead (Texas) High School, 6-1, 205, Three Stars by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com - Offer List: Illinois, Tulsa, Air Force and New Mexico State

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Macias Jr., who is being primarily recruited by Miles Smith, the son of Illini head coach Lovie Smith and the program’s linebackers coach, received a scholarship offer from Illinois on April 15 and the momentum for his recruitment has continued to build. Macias is seen as a safety prospect but could be used in his first few seasons at the nickel cornerback position. He has the size and speed to handle Big Ten Conference football but he’ll need some time to adjust to the numerous responsibilities that Lovie Smith asks from his safeties and that’s why Sydney Brown and Stanley Green playing so early in their careers in Smith’s first few years as a head coach was such a detriment to their development.

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DD Snyder - Tampa Catholic High School in Tampa, Fla., 6-0, 175, Three Stars by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com - Offer List: Illinois, Louisville, Indiana and UCF

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DD Snyder’s older brother (T.J. Harrell) played in the Big Ten at Michigan State from 2015-18 and the idea is Snyder has the speed to handle receivers in Power Five Conference football. Last week, Snyder announced his top selections and his commitment of date of July 6. Illinois was among his final selections suggesting the Illini have still made an impact since offering the prospect in late March shortly after COVID-19 shut down all in-person recruiting.

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Solomon Buchanan - Garden City (KS) Community College, 6-0, 200, Three Stars by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com - Offer List: Illinois and possibly Arizona State

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It would be hard to not include Buchanan on this list after the prospect was committed to the Illini up to two months ago where he reopened his recruitment but hasn’t announced many other Division 1 offers. Illinois doesn’t recently find it easy to get junior college transfers enrolled in school but had two in the last two recruiting classes so it’s possible to get Buchannan, who is originally from Arizona, back in the fold.

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