Area football coaches are happy to hear from Illini staff again


PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD / WYZZ) – Bret Beilema is trying to redeem himself.

He wants to see the high school soccer players in Illinois heading to his school in Champaign for college.

“I would say at least ten years that this relationship hasn’t been there with the University of Illinois invested in our children and our state,” Washington said Darrell Crouch. “I think it will change a lot with him.”

Bielema, originally from Illinois, opened up communication with coaches statewide to try to keep top talent from leaving Illinois. Lovie Smith, the former Illinois coach, has been criticized for not focusing on recruiting in Illinois.

“They are doing an amazing job,” Normal West coach Nathan Fincham said of Illini’s coaching staff. “When I talk to them and text them, they come right back. It wasn’t what we were getting before.

At Dunlap, coach Brett Cazalet has had a few players to play Big Ten football, most recently Charlie Mangieri. The former Eagles defensive lineman and tight end went to Northwestern without being drafted by the Illini.

“He’s a three-year-old starter at Northwestern. Illinois never reached out to talk about Charlie, ”Cazalet said. “I think the staff at Illini do a great job, but they still have a long way to go to understand the relationship coaches in the area have with Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern). Iowa always comes this way.

Cazalet says he has heard from a few coaches in Bielema’s squad this year. And he hopes that communication will remain open.

“It’s great to see that they are on the right track,” Cazalet said. “But they are a few years behind.”

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