Making a tough call
Osei chooses Illinois in difficult decision
Prospect quarterback Miles Osei expressed relief when he committed to Northern Illinois in December. He had taken his time with his decision, so he was confident the Huskies were the best available fit for him as a school and as a football program.Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comProspect quarterback Miles Orsei passed for 4,498 yards and 38 touchdowns and ran for 2,426 yards and 39 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons combined.
For Northern Illinois, it was also a key commitment. Osei was sought by a number of MAC teams that all saw the same thing: a future 6-foot-2 dual-threat star.
Then Illinois stepped in and complicated everything.
Osei had been recruited by Illinois for some time, but the Illini had never offered him a scholarship. He had given up on that ever happening and committed to Northern Illinois. But in January, Osei heard from Illinois again, and this time he was approached with a scholarship. Because Illini senior Eddie McGee would be making a permanent switch from quarterback to wide receiver in 2010, Illinois' staff decided to seek another quarterback recruit, and Osei was the target.
Osei was torn. Illinois was the school he favored, but he also didn't want to back out of his commitment to Northern Illinois. In the end, Osei chose to do what was best for himself. He picked up the phone and dialed Northern Illinois' coaches and told them he was sorry, but he was going to Illinois.
"I do try and keep my word with everyone," Osei said. "It was definitely a hard phone call to make. I talked to [offensive coordinator Matt] Limegrover first. He took it kind of hard. He said, 'I wasn't expecting this.' [Head] coach [Jerry] Kill took it pretty hard, too, and said that he wished I would have went there. We ended the phone call on a good note. He said if I ever changed my mind, their door was open. Not a lot of schools would have said that."
Prospect coach Brent Pearlman understood especially well how agonizing Osei's final decision had been.
"Miles is a kid who integrity is important to him," Pearlman said. "Recruiting is a business, and a lot of things happen. When Illinois came back in, that was one of the dilemmas he had to come to grips with. We talked about it. A lot of things happen in recruiting that don't happen in life. You have to make the best decision for you."
The main advantage of Illinois over Northern Illinois for Osei was the actual school. Osei felt Illinois was a better fit.
As for football, Osei said he didn't see much of a difference.
"They're two programs on the rise," Osei said.
The one main difference might be Osei's opportunity for playing time. At Northern Illinois, he was highly sought after and was the lone quarterback committed. At Illinois, he was offered a scholarship late, and he is the second quarterback in the class after Downers Grove South's Chandler Whitmer, who was chosen to participate in the Elite 11 camp this past summer.
"I like the challenge," Osei said. "I think no matter where you go, you can't set yourself to a be a starter. I think at both places you have an opportunity to play. It's a matter of what you do with that opportunity."
Pearlman is confident Osei has the tools to be a Big Ten quarterback. He was Prospect's starting quarterback for three seasons and led the Knights to the playoffs each year. Over his last two seasons, he was among the best in the state. He threw for 4,498 yards and 38 touchdowns and ran for 2,426 yards and 39 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons combined.
There's also something else Pearlman can't exactly put his finger on.
"I just think he has the X factor," Pearlman said. "He's got 10 to 12 things that I can't describe to you. I can't put them on paper, but every time he steps on the field he does these things.
"He definitely took a step forward [this year]. What impressed me was his ability to grasp everything we were doing and make it his. He was definitely a better thrower this year, and he was a good thrower as a junior. He hit a lot of throws this year that a lot of kids just can't make. There's only one Miles Osei in my coaching career."
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
2010 PLAYER COMMITS
Here's a list of the players committed to Ron Zook and University of Illinois.
Name Grade Rank Ht Wt School Darius Millines 80 WR #25 6-0 171 American Heritage-Boca-Delray (FL) Jonathan Brown 78 ILB #11 6-1 225 Christian Brothers H.S. (TN) Chandler Whitmer 78 QB #21 6-0 183 Downers Grove South H.S. (IL) Ryan Lankford 78 WR #59 5-11 157 Paxon School For Adv. Studies (FL) Miles Osei 76 ATH #99 6-1 185 Prospect H.S. (IL) Mark Wilson 76 ILB #32 6-1 225 Lincoln H.S. (FL) Michael Heitz 74 OT #106 6-6 260 VIT Senior H.S. (IL) Alex Hill 74 OG #88 6-3 300 Slidell H.S. (LA) Ean Davis 74 RB #123 5-11 190 Camden County H.S. (GA) E. Thomas III 74 S #119 6-1 195 Saint Mary's Prep School (MI) Simon Cvijanovic 73 OG #124 6-5 240 Benedictine H.S. (OH) Anthony Williams 70 WR #220 6-5 198 Atlantic Shores Christian School (VA) Shawn Afryl 70 OG #169 6-3 300 Niles West H.S. (IL) Spencer Harris 70 WR #227 6-3 170 Greenwood H.S. (AR) Evan Wilson 70 TE #86 6-6 212 Woodstock H.S. (GA) Austin Teitsma 69 TE #87 6-3 230 Glenbard South H.S. (IL) Jake Howe 40 FB 6-3 260 McHenry Community H.S. (IL) Jay Prosch 40 FB 6-0 238 UMS Wright Prep School (AL)
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