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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Michael O'Brien

Simeon’s Malik Elzy commits to Illinois

Simeon’s Malik Elzy (8) picks up yards after catching a screen pass. (Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times)

Simeon senior Malik Elzy is heading to Champaign.

Prairie Ridge quarterback Tyler Vasey, the Sun-Times Player of the Year, was the top rusher in the country. Quarterback Blainey Dowling led Mount Carmel to an undefeated season and the Class 7A state championship.

But Elzy was the player who provided the most impressive high-level moments this season, the one who regularly turned in jaw-dropping feats of skill and athleticism. The All-Area and All-City selection led the Wolverines to a 12-1 season and the Prep Bowl championship.

Elzy, who has scholarship offers from nearly 30 FBS colleges, committed to Illinois on Saturday on NBC at the All-American Game in San Antonio. His final five schools were Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee and Notre Dame.

‘‘Illinois prioritized me and showed me how much they needed me on the team,’’ Elzy said.

Elzy, a 6-3, 200-pound receiver/defensive back, made highlight-reel catches and leveled opponents with devastating hits. He was also a force on punt returns. Elzy originally committed to Cincinnati in July but decommitted in late October and reopened his recruitment.

Elzy is ranked fourth overall in Illinois, 43rd among receivers nationally and 305th in the country overall in the 247Sports composite rankings. He is the highest-rated receiver Illinois has signed since Arrelious Benn in 2007.

‘‘[Elzy] is our team,’’ Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said after Elzy led the Wolverines to a victory against Wheaton-Warrenville South. ‘‘He punts, plays defense and offense. He might be the best player I’ve seen at Simeon.’’

Elzy is the second top-five and fourth top-20 recruit from Illinois for coach Bret Bielema, joining Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond athlete Kaden Feagin and a pair of East St. Louis players, offensive tackle Brandon Henderson and linebacker Antwon Hayden.

‘‘I did not expect [Bielema and his staff] to win over the state so quickly,’’ Rivals recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove said. ‘‘If you want to win a Big Ten championship, you have to have guys like these on your roster.’’

Elzy finished the season with 45 catches for 1,025 yards and 11 touchdowns.

‘‘It’s huge when you get an elite, big-body receiver that has the ability to play right away,’’ Cosgrove said. ‘‘[Elzy] has the ability to be a dominant receiver in the Big Ten. He’s almost like a basketball player [with his leaping ability]. He’s going to win 50/50 balls.’’

Illinois recruit David Olano, a kicker from Naperville North, nailed a 50-yard field goal in the All-American Game just a few minutes before Elzy announced his commitment. It was quite a five-minute burst of optimism for the Fighting Illini football program.

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