O’Fallon Panthers junior running back Kentrail Moran made it official Saturday, giving a verbal commitment to play football at the University of Illinois during a visit to the school.
Moran made the announcement on his Twitter account (@Wooda_Moran24).
He will become the second O’Fallon player to head to Champaign in recent years, joining former teammate Darius Mosely, a sophomore defensive back with the Illini.
“It’s close to home and an opportunity for me to play right away,” Moran said. “I like the tradition of their running backs. They’re trying to make some moves and get some changes in.”
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Moran has long been one of the top running back recruits in the state and was sitting on at least 10 scholarship offers, including Louisville, Syracuse, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas and Iowa State. He also had an offer from Michigan under the old coaching staff before the Wolverines hired former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.
“I think he’s an every-down back,” O’Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst said. “He can get the tough yards inside and he can get outside; he’s also very good catching the ball and very good in pass protection. He can be on the field for all downs, which I know a lot of schools and coaches liked about him.
“He’s been recruited since his freshman year, so he’s spent a lot of time on the phone and being talked to by coaches and recruiters,” Joggerst said. “Although it’s exciting at first, it gets a little cumbersome over time.”
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound junior is considered the fourth best overall junior recruit in Illinois according to Rivals.com. He had interest from some of the nation’s top programs, including several of the top teams in the Southeastern Conference.
“It was really tough, people telling me I could play here and there and how nice the opportunities were,” Moran said. “There was a part of me saying it’s time to step up now and staying close to home.”
Limited by injuries to 342 yards on 99 carries in four games as a junior last fall, Moran had 1,130 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore on 225 carries. He also caught 29 passes for 172 yards.
“I’m fine now,” Moran said. “I’m back healthy.”
“He’s very physical,” Joggerst said. “You want to get that kid that can get you the tough yards and he’s very good between the tackles. He’s 195 and by the time he gets on campus he’ll be over 200, so he’s got good weight on him.”
Moran burst onto the area scene as a freshman, when he ran for 699 yards and six TDs on 138 carries. He also had 22 pass receptions that season for 248 yards and a touchdown and drew early scholarship offers from Northern Illinois and Illinois before his sophomore year ended.
“That doesn’t happen very often where you come into a school this size and make that kind of am impact as a freshman, but he did,” Joggerst said. “He’s a hard worker and was able to adapt quickly.”