Illinois received a commitment from Pace (Fla.) defensive back Tyler Strain on Friday. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback had interest from Purdue, USF, South Alabama, Troy and Marshall. Illinois secondary coach Keynodo Hudson, a Florida native led the Illini’s pursuit of Strain. Strain said Illini staff members Brent Jackson and Aaron Gonzales.
Strain spoke with IlliniPulse about his decision in this exclusive Q&A.
Q: Why Illinois?
A: I connect with the coaches well.
Q: What was the Illini’s staff reaction when you let them know you were going to make the move?
Q: Coach Hudson is your lead recruiter. How close is that relationship?
A: Close but I would love to meet him. He’s a pretty funny and down to earth guy.
Q: What type of player is Illinois getting in you and what are you going to bring to the program?
A: They are getting a dawg. I am bringing everything to this program I’m giving it my 110%.
Q: What let you know coach Lovie was the right coach for you at the next level?
A: He is a legend really. And I want to be coached by a black head coach.
Q: Are you 100 percent committed and what’s your next move?
A: Yes and just keep grinding.
The Sunshine State continues to bring heat to the Illini’s Class of 2021. Eight of the Illini’s 14 commitments in the Class of 2021 are from Florida. Illini secondary coach Keynodo Hudson continues to be the key in bringing most of the talent from his home state. Five of the Illini’s six defensive back commitments in the class are from Florida. Since Hudson was hired in January 2019, seven of the eight Illini defensive back commits/signees are from Florida.
Strain can flat out fly (10.96 in the 100-meter dash). He has a lightning-quick first step, blazing acceleration, and outstanding top-end speed. At Pace, Strain was effective in all three phases of football.
Strain caught four passes for 124 yards (31.0 yards-per-catch) and rushed six times for 68 yards. He was mixed in occasionally on offense, but never missed a snap on defense as a cornerback. He had 34 tackles – several in which he chased down a ball carrier to save a touchdown – four pass deflections and one interception.