May 7, 2012
Olentangy's Schmidt verbally commits to Illinois
Junior two-way lineman Austin Schmidt added to the Olentangy football program's list of players who will play in the Big Ten when he verbally committed to Illinois on May 5.
Joshua Perry and Kenton Playko are Olentangy seniors who have signed with Ohio State and Northwestern, respectively.
Schmidt, who put on 25 pounds of muscle over the past year, is a 6-foot-6, 270-pounder who saw action last season at both right tackle and left tackle.
"I went there a while ago for Illinois' junior day and I really liked the campus," Schmidt said. "We toured their facilities and I really liked it and I really liked the coaches."
Tim Beckman took over as Illinois' coach on Dec. 9, 2011 after going 21-16 in three seasons at Toledo. He led the Rockets to back-to-back Bowl games his final two seasons.
Beckman also formerly coached cornerbacks at Ohio State from 2005-06 and played college football for the University of Findlay. Beckman took over for Ron Zook, who was fired after seven seasons last November.
Schmidt first got to know Beckman when he still was coaching at Toledo.
Last season, Illinois won its first six games but lost its final six of the regular season to ultimately seal Zook's fate. The Illini beat UCLA 20-14 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to finish 7-6.
Schmidt's older brother, 2011 Olentangy graduate Garrett Schmidt, plays football for Dartmouth.
"Some of Illinois' coaches came from Toledo, so it was good knowing them," said Austin Schmidt, who also had an offer from Central Michigan. "(Next fall) I think I'm going to play offense and defense. I started at right tackle until Kenton Playko went down with an injury."