Posted by Bryan Fischer
Ron Zook is known as an excellent recruiter despite his on the field coaching abilities falling short of expectations. How good of a recruiter? Despite being very much on the coaching hot seat, Zook and his staff flipped linebacker and Miami commitment Keith Brown and added commitments from Miami (Fla.) linebacker Lamar Atkins and Bolingbrook (Ill.) offensive lineman Robbie Bain in less than 24 hours.
"I have just been talking with my family and I've been thinking about it lately," Bain told Orangeandbluenews.com. "I felt like it was the right school. I love the coaches, good academics, good school. I just think it's the right fit for me."
The possibility of the Illinois coaching staff moving on after the season didn't weigh much on Bain, who also had interest from several other Big Ten schools.
"I've heard that, but I'm not really paying attention to it," he said. "I hope the coaches stay, but I'm committed to Illinois."
While Bain committing to an in-state school is not that much of a shock, grabbing two linebackers out of South Florida is. Brown had been wavering on his commitment to the Hurricanes ever since the Nevin Shapiro allegations came out and had been taking official visits to several schools. He recently took one to Illinois with Atkins, his teammate and brother, and things went so well both ended up committing to the Illini.
"I really like coach Zook," Brown said. "He's a great coach, a real team player. He's all about his players and would do anything for them, and I love that."
The trio give the program 12 commitments for the class of 2012, with Brown and Atkins being the only linebackers to make a pledge. Illinois still has plenty of work left to do on the recruiting trail as they have one of the smallest classes in the Big Ten. Brown is ranked as the 16th-best outside linebacker in the country by Maxpreps.
"He makes plays from sideline to sideline, is excellent in coverage, rarely gets caught up in traffic, plays the game on his feet, and is known for his hard-hitting style of play," analyst Tom Lemming said of Brown. "He shows good ball skills, is as durable as they come, and can effectively plug the gap and shut off the inside run."