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November 18, 2002When you think Illinois in the national perception, one of the last things that people think of is football and recruiting. But with a strong population base and a rapidly expanding loyal following - sparked on by web sites like Edgy Tim.com - football recruiting in the Land of Lincoln is stronger than ever and the release of the Rivals.com Illinois Top 25 proves that.
And when you go to Illinois this season the first thing that jumps out to you is that there is a ton of high-quality linemen in the state this season.
The state's top player is offensive lineman Martin O'Donnell of Downers Grove South. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive tackle is ranked as the nation's top offensive tackle and a five-star selection.
But O'Donnell does have some competition from three other linemen in the state top five.
Right behind him at No. 2 is Decatur MacArthur standout defensive tackle Lawrence Dampeer. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Dampeer is a household name with recruiting fans with teams from all over the nation chasing after him. He lists Miami, Ohio State and Oklahoma as his top three teams.
Four-star offensive tackle Mike Jones is the state's No. 3 player - just barely and we mean barely ahead of do it all quarterback Tommy Zbikowski. Both are amazing players but you have to like offensive linemen that are 6-foot-5, 305-pounds with amazing feet.
At No. 5 on the list is another offensive lineman - Akim Millington. Millington, who is ranked with four stars, is heading to Oklahoma to play his college football.
Illinois has landed six commitments from players in the state top 25 with their highest pledge being a soft commitment from Bolingbrook running back A.J. Johnson. Johnson recently indicated that he was going to take an official visit to Iowa despite his very early pledge to the Illini.