Bret Bielema has been in charge in Champaign for less than a month, but the new Illinois head coach has already placed a heavy emphasis on recruiting talented prospects, particularly the in-state players. And he’s assembling a staff that is fearless out on the recruiting trail.

Recently, Bielema announced that he was adding Aaron Henry to the staff as the defensive backs coach. Henry played under Bielema as a defensive back at Wisconsin from 2007-11 and then went on to join Arkansas’ staff as a graduate assistant in 2014-15 when Bielema was the head coach.

On Thursday, Henry met with the media for the first time since being hired in his new role. The primary takeaway, once again, was his approach to recruiting.

“At the end of the day, it’s about relationships,” Henry said of the recruiting aspect of college football. He also showed his comfort in that role, saying “You can drop me off in Africa, and you can be sure I’m going to come back with some players.”

Under Lovie Smith, Illinois seriously struggled on the recruiting front, particularly with in-state prospects. It’s a major area of concern Bielema and his staff want to address moving forward.

In addition to playing in the B1G, Henry did have a one-year stop at Rutgers in 2016, where he served as the defensive backs coach. He coached the safeties at North Carolina State in 2017 before moving to coach cornerbacks with the Wolf Pack from 2018-19.

Last season, Henry was the cornerbacks coach at Vanderbilt.