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Illini land two more 2023 commits | Sports


CHAMPAIGN — Illinois’ 2023 recruiting class kept growing over the weekend with commitments from in-state kicker David Olano and Florida defensive back Jaheim Clarke. 

Olano, a Naperville North product, is considered one of the top kickers in the Class. The 5-foot-10, 160-pound senior is ranked as the No. 1 kicker in 2023 by Chris Sailer Kicking and the No. 21 kicker in the class by Kohl’s Kicking. Olano will be on scholarship at Illinois and chose the Illini over an offer from Air Force and other preferred walk-on opportunities. 

The Kohl’s Kicking profile of Olano includes phrases like “his ball flight is special” and “his ball-striking is at the (Division I) level.”

Olano’s profile from Chris Sailer Kicking heaps even more praise on the future Illinois kicker.

“David is a fantastic high school kicking prospect,” Sailer wrote. “He is a great looking athlete with a live leg. David does an outstanding job on field goal. He gets the ball up well off the ground and has (55-plus) yard range. David hits a pure and accurate ball. His kickoffs are strong. He drives the ball (65-plus) yards, with (four second-plus) hang time consistently. … A big time competitor who thrives under pressure.”

Clarke’s commitment is the first of what projects to be several from defensive backs for Illinois in 2023 class. The 6-1, 164-pounder had nearly two dozen total offers, but few from FBS programs. The others at that level in the mix included Iowa State, Marshall, Navy, Temple, Tulane, South Florida and recent FCS convert James Madison.

Clarke helped Fort Myers (Fla.) Riverdale post a 3-6 record last fall. He led the Raiders with four interceptions and four pass deflections, forced one fumble and finished with 38 tackles.

Neither Olano or Clarke are currently ranked by 247Sports or Rivals. Their commitments, then, didn’t change Illinois’ team recruiting ranking. The Illini check in 12th in the Big Ten and 44th nationally per the 247Sports Composite and 12th in the Big Ten and 37th nationally per Rivals.

Illinois’ double commitment weekend pushes its total number to 10 in the Class of 2023 with five offensive, four defensive and now one special teams. Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond standout Kaden Feagin is the highest ranked and remains Illinois’ only four-star recruit.

Class of 2023 commits

Kaden Feagin; 6-3, 221, ATH; Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond

Jamarrion Harkless; 6-4, 290, DL; Frederick Douglass (Ky.)

TJ McMillen; 6-3, 270, OL; Wheaton St. Francis

Antwon Hayden; 6-2, 235, LB; East St. Louis

Pat Farrell; 6-5, 235, EDGE; St. Rita

Zachary Aamland; 6-6, 285, OL; Hun School (N.J.)

Rico Jackson; 6-6, 295, OL; Dillard (Fla.)

Jaheim Clarke; 6-1, 164, S; Riverdale (Fla.)

David Olano; 5-10, 160, K; Naperville North

Cal Swanson; 6-3, 185, QB; Ardmore (Okla.)

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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