WR Eian Pugh to graduate, enroll and compete in Illinois

Signatory of Illinois Eian Pugho graduates today from Oak Park (Ill.) Fenwick and heads to Champaign Wednesday to enroll and begin his collegiate career.

Pugh, a six-foot-wide and 177-pound-wide receiver, made the decision to retire from basketball at Fenwick this winter and enroll mid-year.

“Just having the opportunity to go to school early and prepare my body for Big Te football was really important to me,” he said. “I love basketball, but I have high goals for myself and I feel that signing up early will help me reach them faster.”

An injury threatened to affect Pugh’s off-season, his recruiting and then his senior season, but he fought through it.

“I’ve been struggling with my hamstring injury all summer,” he said. “I couldn’t attend some of the camps I wanted and when I went into the season it was about 50 percent, but my team needed me and I persevered and I’m glad I did.”

That’s because that last year led to Pugh and his brother’s squad winning a state title.

“Senior years were very memorable,” Pugh said. “Probably one of the best times of my life. We talked about winning a state as a freshman and making it happen was a surreal experience, so I’m glad everything turned out the way it did.”

Pugh had several other offers at the Power Five level and in the Big Ten, but found a home with the Illini, who had placed their emphasis on recruiting into the state under Bret Bielema in this class.

“I actually chose Illinois just because it was the best official visit I’ve had,” Pugh said. “They showed my family and I the most love and the opportunity to play close to home also played a part. Campus is only two hours away, so it will be nice to see my family often.”

Not only that, but the opportunity to play is also there if Pugh can sort things out for his side, which will get him started if he signs up early.

“Coach B and Coach McDonald said I have a chance to come in and compete for a spot and play early,” he said. “The most important thing is really my weight. I feel like I can do anything from a wide receiver’s point of view, but it’s going to be how my body develops that will really get me on the field if I fall.”

The Illini signed 22 players in the Early Signing Period.

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