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4-star linebacker keeps Illini in top 12

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The class of 2023 could end up being a special group for the Illinois football team if momentum keeps building as it has the past few weeks.

Coming off back-to-back classes in 2020 and 2021 where the Illini ranked No. 88 and No. 72 in the nation, respectively, in recruiting, Bret Bielema has turned the program around when it comes to bringing in quality talent from top to bottom.

In his first recruiting class with the Orange and Blue, Bielema pulled in the No. 46 ranked class in the nation in 2022. That was one of the highest ranked recruiting classes for the Illini in the past decade. But the 2023 group could prove to be an even stronger class. So far, Illinois has two players committed and has a national recruiting ranking of No. 39 for the class of 2023.

There is definitely the potential for the Illini to add more top talent to this grouping as well. On Wednesday, Illinois actually moved a step closer to landing one of the best linebackers in the country in Phil Picciotti.

Picciotti is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker from Pennridge High School and resides in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. He is rated a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 361 player in the class of 2023. He is also the No. 33 linebacker in the nation and the No. 8 player coming out of Pennsylvania.

Phil Picciotti would add to a strong Illinois football linebacker corps.

The Illini could use a player like Picciotti and all he brings to the football field. As of Wednesday, the Illini are a little closer to landing the four-star recruit as well.

Picciotti decided to narrow the scope of his recruitment just days ago. While every team in the country seemed to have been after the linebacker, only 12 teams are now vying for his commitment. The list of 12 includes South Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Auburn, USC, Nebraska, Michigan, Penn State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

That is a pretty intense list with some great programs represented. 247Sports does have three teams as “warm” to land Picciotti. Those three teams are Michigan State, Oklahoma, and Penn State.

Analysis

It is going to be a tough battle landing Picciotti. I would say the next step in the recruiting process to see if Illinois is in the running is landing an official visit. Just landing an official visit would be pretty impressive.

Illinois has visited Picciotti at least once this year. That shows they are invested in landing him, but it is going to be hard to pull him away from some of the in-state programs or the traditional powerhouses of the college football world.

If Bielema can get Piccotti in for a visit, it will show me that he has an amazing recruiting pull. I don’t expect Illinois to be able to land this kid but beating out a lot of teams to at least get in his top five would be a small silver lining. It would show me how strong of a coaching staff we have in Champaign.





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