Dunlap 100 Percent For Summer Workouts

Dunlap 100 Percent For Summer Workouts

Sophomore cornerback Jaylen Dunlap was the steal of the 2013 recruiting class... After offseason shoulder surgery, he says he's ready to get back into the competition during summer workouts.

CHICAGO - It seemed like every Illinois coach had something funny to say when they walked by Jaylen Dunlap.

He stood posted on a fence, but the coaches kept circling back to where the sophomore cornerback was standing.

It was classic old school, new school, football talking fun.

Dunlap made it out to the recruiting camp at Gately Stadium Sunday, even getting a taste of what it's like to coach up players alongside defensive coordinator Tim Banks.

It's a look that could be in his future, a few years down the road.

"I want to be a coach for sure one day," Dunlap said. "I think I can handle that."

It wasn't that long ago that Dunlap was competing at events like Sunday's camp. A standout at Crete-Monee High School, Dunlap's success on Friday Nights in the fall, which included 10 career interceptions and a state title in 2012, didn't translate into offers from big-time college programs. Camp after camp each summer, Dunlap tried to show coaches he was worthy.

"The thing that gets to me today is getting turned down by a lot of schools," he said. "At a lot of camps I got told no more than yes in terms of offers. That put a chip on my shoulder."

Illinois offered late in the process, and Dunlap quickly accepted. That turned out to be a great decision for both parties. Dunlap played in every game as a freshman in 2013, recording 26 tackles and defending two passes. "I'm a strong believer in everything happens for a reason. i think God knew my plan, and I stuck with it," he said.

Dunlap sat out this spring after offseason shoulder surgery, but says he's now 100 percent heading into summer workouts. He'll re-join a fierce competition for the cornerback spots, a position that doesn't lack for young talent and depth.

"Me being a competitor, it was hard watching and sitting out in the spring," Dunlap said. "I feel way more comfortable going into this summer. I know what to expect and there's no passes anymore."

Dunlap held his own on Sunday. He spent time instructing players not much younger than him, fending off would-be barbs from his coaches during the down-time. Whether it was o-line coach A.J. Ricker baiting him about his ability to handle a pulling lineman or coordinator Bill Cubit's jabs about Dunlap's tight shirt to make his muscles look bigger, the young corner had an answer.

"We love Jaylen," tight ends/running backs coach Alex Golesh said. "He has just the right amount of confidence. He can joke and have a good time but he knows to get serious when it's time."

It might have taken longer than expected, but Dunlap ended up in the right place.

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