Marcus Harper

2020 vision? Lovie Smith adds three to upcoming class

NBC Sports Chicago

2020 vision? Lovie Smith adds three to upcoming class

Illinois and head coach Lovie Smith hosted several of the state's top-ranked names on Saturday for a Junior Day event. And so far, it's paid dividents. The Fighting Illini have added two big in-state verbal commitments over the last 24 hours: Marist's four star-ranked wide receiver Jadon Thompson (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) and Simeon's three star-ranked offensive guard Marcus Harper (6-foot-4, 290 pounds). 

Thompson, who posted his commitment via a video on his Twitter account Monday afternoon, discussed why he decided to give the Fighting Illini his verbal commitment.

"I chose Illinois because it simply felt like home," Thompson said. "From the first time I visited Illinois...just got better every time."

Harper, who gave Illinois his verbal commitment on Sunday afternoon, felt a desire to remain close to home as one of the keys factors in his decision. 

"I decided to commit to Illinois because it's my home state. I fit well into the system and I really connected with the guys on the team and the coaches," Harper said. "Instead of asking why I committed to Illinois to me it's more of why not commit to them instead."

Harper, who played his junior year at Homewood-Flossmoor before transferring to Simeon this semester chose the Fighting Illini over scholarship offers from schools such as Michigan State, Oregon, Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas State and Cincinnati.

Thompson also discussed why he decided to give Illinois his early verbal commitment.

"Why wait?"according to Thompson. "Now I can go out and recruit and get more players to join me at Illinois. What's better than playing for your home state?"

Illinois also added a third verbal commitment in the Class of 2020 on Sunday: St. Louis (Mo.) Trinity Catholic four star-ranked RB Reggie Love (5-foot-10, 185 pounds). Love was also a nationally sought-after recruit with an impressive scholarship offer sheet.