Nick North, a 6'-1" safety from the Miami area, has been on the Illini radar for some time. Once he got on campus for a visit, he was hooked and gave Illinois another much-needed defensive
"My first feeling was 'wow' because I'd never seen all of the snow or the rural land. I thought it was going to be really boring. Once we got to the actual campus though, I saw it was more of a city and
thought it would be more fun."
One player who made sure North had a good time at Illinois was fellow safety Fritz Rock.
"It was kind of cool. We just chilled and played video games and then went out and hung out. It was a good regular college weekend."
In addition to the players, North talked to the coaches and got a feel for their style as well as where he would fit in from day one.
"We talked about coming in, playing early and making a good impact. I got to learn about all the players. I know I'll be working hard in the weight room and on the field."
Assistant Head Coach Joe Gilbert has ties to Florida and was the one who made contact with North.
"Coach Gilbert and I always talk. We always have a fun talk. We talk about stuff on and off the field. It's always a positive conversation."
Despite many other offers, Illinois stood out for North in the end, for multiple reasons.
"The education at Illinois is really good. I want to be able to do something after football too. My number one thing was the academic background. The people in the city showed me a lot of love. The players are cool, the coaching staff is cool. That's why I committed."
With plenty of opportunity to see the field early at defensive back, North talked about the potential for making an early impact.
"I think I could see myself on the field probably by week four or five. I want to learn the system fast. I'm a really fast learner, and once I learn something I'm pretty good at it. All I can do from there is get better at it. It'll be like high school again except more
While North will be playing strictly safety at Illinois, he wore a lot of different hats for his high school team.
"This season I played free safety, strong safety, outside and inside linebacker, cornerback, basically everything on defense except on the line. The coaches want me at free safety though."
The state of Florida is known for fast and physical football, and North prides himself on being able to bring both to the table when he takes the field.
"I really don't have a specific type of play. I'm pretty balanced as a safety. I can make a pick on one play and hit a guy hard on the next. I like to hit, don't get me wrong, but I can make a big play on
the ball too if it needs to be made."
Already in fairly good physical shape, North isn't settling and will continue to push himself until he arrives on campus.
"I just need to keep hitting the weight room. The Big Ten is really big and thick guys. It's a big style of football, so I need to be in the weight room."
One of several additions the Illini made to their football recruiting class recently came from southern Florida for his official visit. Despite the snow, Nick North still felt good enough to commit to the Illini.