Illinois native Luke Ford is leaving Georgia and returning to his home state.
On Friday, former the former 4-star tight end announced via Twitter that he’s leaving Georgia and transferring to Illinois. It’s another significant bump for head coach Lovie Smith, as he works on improving a young Illini roster.
Ford cited family health issues and proximity to home as reasons for leaving Athens.
“Due to my grandparents’ deteriorating health and my family’s inability to afford to see me play in person each week, I will be transferring to the University of Illinois,” Ford wrote.
— L U K E F O R D™️ (@lukeredx97) January 4, 2019
Ford appeared in nine games for the Bulldogs this season, making one catch for four yards.
As a member of the 2018 recruiting class, Ford was the No. 3 ranked tight end and the top talent out of the state of Illinois, according to 247Sports. Overall, he was the 51st-ranked player in the class.
Illinois receives the news just one day after 4-star linebacker Shammond Cooper announced he was committing to the Illini at the Under Armour All-America Game. He became the third 4-star talent to join the 2019 recruiting class.
The Illini also received news that former 4-star wide receiver Jeff Thomas, another previous Illinois target, was leaving the Miami Hurricanes and headed to Champaign.
Ford is expected to apply for a waiver from the NCAA for immediate eligibility. If he doesn’t receive it, he will be forced to sit out the 2019 season before playing. He has three years of eligibility remaining.