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December 19, 2013

Illini add size to defensive line


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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