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CHAMPAIGN — Less than a month after signing a small but talented 2019 recruiting class, the Illinois football team struck gold again.

On Thursday, 4-star linebacker Shammond Cooper of St. Louis Trinity Catholic announced a verbal commitment to the Illini at the Under Armor All-American game on ESPN2.

“It's a family experience,” Cooper said. “Changing the culture there, it'll be big time.”  ​

Cooper joins high school teammate Isaiah Williams as pledges to the Illini in 2019. Cooper can sign on National Signing Day, Feb. 6.

Cooper, a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder, chose Illinois over Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, and ranks Cooper as the No. 5 player in the state of Missouri.

Cooper's addition will add depth to a linebacker position that returns Jake Hansen and Dele Harding, and lost Del'Shawn Phillips to graduation. Phillips was Illinois' lone senior on the defensive side of the ball.

In addition to joining Hansen and Harding, linebacker Milo Eifler will also be eligible for Illinois after sitting out his transfer year. Eifler was a four-star recruit who signed with the University of Washington out of high school.

Cooper will join a recruiting class that includes Williams and Marquez Beason, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound defensive back from Duncanville, Texas. Beason and Williams were the highest-rated players to sign with Illinois since Terry Hawthorne since 2009.

Other members of Illinois' recruiting class from the early signing period were: Moses Okpala,a 6-foot-7, 350-pound defensive lineman from Ladue, Mo.; Joseph Thompson, a 5-10, 160-pound defensive back from Chicago Phillips; Nick Fedanzo, 6-0, 200-pound running back from Lombard Montini; Evan Kirts, a 6-5, 250-pound offensive lineman from Chicago Brother Rice; Seth Coleman, a 6-5, 200-pound defensive lineman from Melbourne, Fla. (Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy); Casey Washington, a 6-2, 175-pound wide receiver from Pflugerville, Texas; Griffin Moore, a 6-4, 225-pound tight end from Bloomington; Keith Randolph, a 6-5, 270-pound defensive lineman from Belleville West; and Kyron Cumby, a 5-8, 175-pound running back from Plano, Texas.

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Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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