Bret Bielema has seen a change on the recruiting trail after Illinois’ strong start to the 2022 season.

Illinois was recently ranked for the 1st time since October 2011. In what has been a surprising season, Illinois is off to a 6-1 start through 7 games. In Week 7, Illinois outlasted Minnesota in a 26-14 victory.

The successful start to the season has helped the program’s entire culture. Bielema noticed more attention the program when recruiting high school players:

“Everyone is a lot more aware about Illinois football,” Bielema said.

When programs have successful season, recruits are more willing to commit to a school that is winning games. In 2022, Illinois already exceeded last season’s win total of 5 games. High school recruits are starting to pay more attention to Illinois as a serious suitor.

“At this time of year, recruits change their minds. We’ve seen that in the last 24 hours,” Bielema said. “We’re a different Illinois that we were last June.”

Bielema is confident that Illinois will be able to take advantage of an open recruiting season. Recruits have several months to declare to a college and Illinois has plenty of time to convince high school players to play for the program.

Illinois will return to action in Week 9 against Nebraska.