Illinois reached in to the Peach State and extended an offer to defensive end Nick Dawson from McDonough (GA) Eagle's Landing Christian.
The Illini join Big Ten rival Indiana in offering the 6-foot-2, 240 pound Dawson. Dawson is in no hurry to make a commitment and could ride out the process right up to National Signing Day in February.
"I think it's a great offer," Dawson said. "I'll definitely take it into serious consideration over these next seven months until signing day. Illinois is in the Big Ten, which is definitely a conference I would love to play in."
Led by assistant Al Seamonson, the Illini are just getting to Dawson. Having just joined the party, Illinois will have some ground to make up. But Dawson says he wants to give the Illini a hard look.
"I've known (Seamonson) for a week now," Dawson said. "I think he would be a great coach to play for. I'm excited to get to know him and build a relationship with him."
Other offers for the 3-star Dawson include Cincinnati, Iowa State, Louisville, and Virginia. Look for Dawson to name some schools that he plans to visit soon. He has no favorites thus far.
"Pretty much everyone who has offered me are all coming at me pretty hard," Dawson said. "I plan to have my list of schools that will be mandatory to get to (for a visit) this fall by next week."
The Illini are recruiting Dawson to play the hybrid LEO position in their defense. A proficient pass rusher, Dawson posted over 70 tackles and 8 sacks as a junior in 2013.
"I'm pretty sure I will be playing outside linebacker in college, like a rush end," Dawson said. "The best part of my game is my speed and strengths. That's how I beat people, and I love to rush the quarterback."
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