- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
Juwan Wesley (Harvey, Ill./Thornton) has a built-in advantage when it comes to other receivers in the 2014 class. His older brother is Jalen Banks, a three-star defensive back committed to Vanderbilt, so Wesley has been honing his skills against SEC competition the last few years.
All that work against Banks helped pave the way for this past weekend, when Wesley picked up his first offer.
While on an unofficial visit to Illinois on Saturday, Wesley was offered by the Illini staff.
“It caught me off guard because I thought I was just going to see the [men’s basketball] game,” he said, “and then I talked to the staff and they offered...It brought a smile to my face and made my mother really happy.”
At 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, Wesley said the Illini coaches were excited with what they saw of his junior film. Although not the biggest receiver, Wesley boasts great speed and playmaking ability.
His technical skills like route running were helped by working with his brother.
“It helped a lot because I went up against him all season in practice, and he knows most of my techniques so I had to learn and develop new things to throw him off,” Wesley said. “I can set the defenders up good and I’m faster than most.”
The Illini coaches stressed family to Wesley, and that really appealed to him.
“The staff preaches brotherhood and that stands out to me,” Wesley said, “because everyone needs to be close to succeed.”
Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa and Wisconsin are also interested in Wesley, as is Vanderbilt. Wesley took a visit to Vanderbilt a few months ago with Banks, who committed while on his visit.
“The weather stands out a lot,” he said laughing. “They’re like a family. Everyone on campus is close, and they’re down to earth.”
2dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney