The Fighting Illini were looking to add size to their defensive line through the recruiting process, and they did just that on Thursday.
6-foot-7, 280-pound D-lineman Jihad Ward from Globe Tech, a junior college in New York City, pledged to Illinois. Rivals.com ranks Ward a 3-star prospect. A recent visit to Champaign sealed the deal for him.
"I felt the love when I first got there on my visit," Ward said. "I spoke to my mom about it, and she said go somewhere where you are comfortable, and where they need you. I just can't explain it. I feel so good about myself right now."
Ward fills a need along the Illinois defensive line. He can play either tackle or strong-side defensive end in Tim Banks' system. Ward selected Illinois after recently taking official visits to West Virginia and South Florida.
Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit made a connection with Ward as his primary recruiter. Ward, who is originally from Philadelphia, said Cubit played a huge role
"When I first talked to Coach Cubit I just had an understanding with him," Ward said. "He's from Philly also, so we both came from the same stomping grounds. When I first got there I just felt so comfortable. The education is great. I will get a degree that really means something.
Ward is solid to Illinois and won't take any more visits. He plans to enroll at Illinois in June and will have 2 years of eligibility remaining.
Jihad Ward is the 18th commitment to Illinois in the class of 2014. Four junior college players signed letters of intent to Illinois on Wednesday: WR Tyrin Stone-Davis, DB Tyree Stone-Davis, WR Geronimo Allison, and DE Joe Fotu.
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