Bret Bielema didn’t recruit a lot of the guys coming to Champaign as members of Illinois’ 2021 class, but he’s looking forward to coaching them.

Wednesday, Bielema met with the media for a National Signing Day press conference, his first in a few seasons. And this one probably felt a little unusual for the new head coach of the Fighting Illini, as he’s welcoming in a class that he didn’t really recruit.

Having been hired to take over the program in December, most of the 2021 class was recruited by former head coach Lovie Smith and his staff. But Bielema says he’s welcoming the newcomers in with “open arms” and looking forward to seeing what they can bring to the program.

Illinois’ class consisted of just 14 members during the 2021 class, a low count for any school. Bielema has tried to make some late additions on the recruiting trail and has also targeted the transfer portal as a place to bring in more players.

Here’s what Bielema said while meeting with reporters on Wednesday: