Malik Elzy is staying home.
The Simeon wide receiver announced his commitment to play football at Illinois during Saturday’s NBC broadcast of the Adidas All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
“I went down to Illinois for a visit and I’d heard a lot of bad things about the past, but I have a vision,” Elzy told the Tribune. “And when I have a vision, I know not everything is going to go right but I know what I could do.
“And with my effort and my ability to do what I can do on the field, I can help Illinois become one of the top programs again. I can make a big impact.”
Illinois enjoyed a resurgent season in 2022 in coach Bret Bielema’s second year in Champaign, finishing 8-5 overall and 5-4 in the Big Ten. The Illini were the early front-runners in the Big Ten West after consecutive wins over Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska before a tough closing stretch of three one-score losses — to Michigan State, Purdue and Michigan — in their last four regular-season games.
The Illini earned the program’s first bowl invitation since 2019, falling 19-10 to Mississippi State in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Monday in Tampa, Fla.
“This is going to be, hopefully, a springboard into bigger and better things,” Bielema — who agreed to a six-year contract extension in December through the end of the 2028 season — said after the bowl loss.
Elzy hopes to be a big part of that bigger and better future. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver is the No. 4 recruit in the state according to the 247 Sports composite rankings.
He decommitted from Cincinnati in October, and after much consideration and consultation with his family and coaches, Elzy chose Illinois from more than 20 Division I offers. Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee and Notre Dame were his other finalists.
He hopes to have an impact on recruiting in Champaign.
“I feel like I can bring a lot of recruits back into Illinois,” he said, “and Illinois could be like one of the Alabamas or Georgias.”