Justice DB Kalen Villanueva (Twitter Photo)
The Illini grab a commitment from Kalen Villanueva
by Jim McGrath, recruitNoVA
In what could be a symbiotic coup for both parties involved, Justice WR/DB Kalen Villanueva (c/o 2021, 6-1 206) has verbally committed to continue his football career with the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois.
According to Wolves’ coach Greg Weisbecker, Villanueva is the first Big Five commit for the Falls Church school “in a long time.” Given the lean years the team suffered through at the beginning of the millennium when they were the J.E.B. Stuart Raiders, it makes an observer wonder if this rising senior may have received the first Big Five football offer to reach Peace Valley Lane since 1990, when Charlie Garner (7,097 rushing yards and 51 touchdowns in the NFL) traded in his Raider gear for the Orange unis of the Tennessee Volunteers.
The Illini hope so. In fact, they feel as if they stole a gem. In a recent issue of the Writing Illini, football scribe Rees Woodcock wrote, “There is a lot I love about Villanueva’s game. The first thing that stands out to me is the fact he is quick. He is clocked in at running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. That is a good number in high school. He is also built well too. I could see him being a player who can go up and get a ball in traffic. That is a huge bonus to whatever team picks him up.”
— Kalen Villanueva (@KalenVillanueva) July 8, 2020
Illinois had its sights set early, and extended Villanueva an offer before any other school, regardless of classification.
“We are extremely excited for Kalen,” said Weisbecker, preparing for his third season at the Justice helm. “The Illini are gaining an incredible young man. Kalen will be a successful student-athlete at Illinois due to his hard work ethic on and off the field. I believe he is the complete package in regards to his academics, physical talent, and his overall character.”
The Wolves finished last season with a 6-5 record and Region 6C playoff berth. The Illini, under former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith finished their campaign with a 6-7 record (4-5 in the Big Ten). They had Villanueva listed as one of their top-five wide receiver prospects from the Class of ’21.
– Jim McGrath