The new year has started off on a positive note for Lovie Smith and the Illinois football program.

Thursday night, prior to kickoff at the Under Armour All-America Game, 4-star linebacker Shammond Cooper gave his commitment to the Illini. He becomes the third 4-star talent to give his pledge to Illinois.

Isaiah Williams and Marquez Beason, both listed as athletes, are also 4-star players headed to Champaign.

Cooper is listed as a top 25 linebacker in the 2019 class and ranks in the top 500 overall, according to 247Sports. The St. Louis native is also listed as a top five player from the state of Missouri.

Prior to Cooper’s commitment, Illinois had the 66th ranked recruiting class nationally. The Illini were No. 13 in the B1G.