Andrew's O'Connor chooses Illinois

Updated: June 16, 2010, 5:48 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

Andrew senior defensive end Chris O'Connor committed to Illinois on Wednesday.

O'Connor, who is 6 foot 5 and 245 pounds, chose the Illini over interest from Air Force, Colorado State, Michigan State, North Dakota State, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

"I compared the schools back to Illinois, and none of them compared," O'Connor said. "Academically, I want to be a civil engineer, and Illinois beats everyone in the nation in that. Their coaching style is very similar to Andrew's. I also liked the atmosphere at the school."

O'Connor was among the area's top defensive ends as a junior and is expected to take his game to another level next season as he's added 45 pounds since last year.

"It makes a big difference," O'Connor said of his added weight. "Now I can take on double teams, can fight longer with offensive linemen. I'm one of the bigger kids now. It's a tougher fight now. When I go one-on-one, I can push them back. I can hold them back. Running around, you can feel the difference. Just playing football, you feel the difference."

O'Connor is Illinois' fourth recruit in its 2011 class.

"What they're getting is a very smart, high-motor, high-character football player," Andrew coach Jim Zimmer said. "Even with his added weight, he's a very athletic kid."

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.