The top-rated quarterback in Illinois--and one of the top 10 in the nation--is John Wienke of Tuscola, a 6-4, 212-pound lefty who hails from a school of only 270 students that is located only 25 miles south of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. So how did he end up with a scholarship to Michigan?
It is an interesting tale.
"I'm an Illinois guy. I lived and died with the Orange and Blue," said Tuscola coach Stan Wienke, John's father. "John still likes Illinois but they didn't show enough interest. He went there nine or 10 times and threw for them twice. But they never offered until other Big 10 schools offered. They never sold us on the idea that John would fit into their program."
In fact, the coach said, Illinois coach Ron Zook suggested that he send film of his son to every college. He did. Michigan didn't look at it. But after Purdue offered a scholarship, the Wienkes received a call from Michigan assistant Andy Moeller.
A Michigan alum who lives in Chicago, a former Wolverine football player, had seen John's video. "You've got to look at him," he told Moeller. John was invited to come to the Michigan campus for an eight-hour workout. Ten days later, he was offered a scholarship. According to Stan Wienke, Illinois made the last of 16 offers after John accepted the Michigan offer and called a halt to his recruiting process.
"I wasn't sure how good John is," his father said. "Eastern Illinois and Northern Illinois offered him in the beginning. But when Colorado, Tennessee and Kentucky and the Big 10 schools offered, I felt he might be as good as we think he is."
John, who passed for 3,200 yards and 34 touchdowns last season while leading Tuscola to the Class 1A championship, attended Rivals' Elite 11 camp in California during the summeer and climbed from No. 17 to No. 9 on its list of the top quarterbacks in the country.
"In the recruiting process, you have to understand different things will happen and sometimes things won't go your way," John said. "I think going to Michigan is a good thing. Sure, I hear things from friends about why I didn't pick Illinois. But they understand I did what is best for me. There are no negatives about going to Michigan.
"My dream schools were Ohio State, Michigan and Illinois. But a year ago, I was just thinking I would have a chance to play at Eastern Illinois or Truman. I always felt I was a small-town kid but I felt I would be one of the top guys. The camps opened my eyes. I competed against the best quarterbacks in the country and I feel I can play at their level."