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December 19, 2012

Illini sign five junior college players




CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois head football coach Tim Beckman announced Wednesday the signing of five junior college student-athletes to national letters of intent to play football at the University of Illinois.


"We're extremely excited about these five young men and their families joining the Fighting Illini family," Beckman said of the newest Illini. "These men are coming to Champaign from winning programs around the country. There are two national champions and several conference champions in the group. The most exciting part is that they fill immediate needs for us. They all play a different position of need and are spread across all areas of the team. The fact that we were able to go throughout the country and sell Illinois football to these young men and their families shows the work ethic and commitment from our staff. We also are very grateful to everyone who helped us with this process."


MARTIZE BARR

WR, 6-0, 190, Washington, D.C. / Calvin Coolidge HS / University of New Mexico / Iowa Western Community College

Remaining Eligibility: Will have 2 years to play 2 starting in 2013

Junior College Coach: Scott Strohmeier

High School Coach: Jason Lane

Intended Major: Communications

Illinois Academic Recruiting Assistant: Anthony Fontana - Associate Director, Undergraduate Admissions, College of Business

College/Junior College: Three-star recruit by Rivals … Ranked the No. 26 junior college wide receiver in the nation by 247 Sports … Transferred to Iowa Western for the 2012 season after two seasons at the University of New Mexico … Had 31 receptions for 498 yards (16.1 ypc) and five touchdowns in 2012 … Helped lead Iowa Western to the NJCAA national championship and a Midwest Football Conference (MFC) title with a perfect 11-0 record … Played in 10 games at New Mexico in 2011, making eight catches for 79 yards and rushing for 40 yards on six carries on the season … Also started five games at safety and had 21 tackles, two TFLs and 2 PBUs … Played in the Lobos' 2010 season-opener at Oregon but suffered a hand injury that forced him to sit out the rest of the year.

High School: Helped Coolidge compile a 23-12 record over his final three years, including a playoff berth in 2008 … Had 35 receptions for 563 yards and six TDs as a senior in 2009 … First-team D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association selection by The Washington Post and named one of the top 60 players in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area (DMV) after making 51 catches for 1,000 yards and nine TDs as a junior in 2008 … Also scored twice on punt returns in 2008 … Was a sprinter for the Colts' track team … Made the honor roll in 2009.

Beckman on Barr: "Martize brings a lot of game experience to our group of wide receivers. He has played on both sides of the ball at the Division I level and spent this past season in a very explosive offense at Iowa Western. Martize will work extremely hard to help the Fighting Illini in every way possible. He won a national championship this year, and that is the type of guys we want in our program."


ABENS CAJUSTE

DT, 6-3, 290, Miami, Fla. / North Miami Beach HS / Central Connecticut State / Victor Valley College (CA)

Remaining Eligibility: Will have 2 years to play 2 starting in 2013

Junior College Coach: Dave Hoover

High School Coach: Jeff Bertani

Intended Major: Communications

Illinois Academic Recruiting Assistant: Jermaine Martinez - Graduate Teaching Assistant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

College/Junior College: Three-star recruit by Rivals, Scout and 247 Sports … Ranked the No. 20 junior college defensive tackle in the country by 247 Sports … Played in only six games in 2012, totaling 14 tackles and a half-TFL … Played in eight games in 2011, making 17 tackles and four TFLs … Redshirted the 2010 season at Central Connecticut State before transferring to Victor Valley … One of the most sought after defensive tackles nationally.

High School: Helped North Miami Beach win district championships in 2006 and '07.

Beckman on Cajuste: "Abe gives us a big body on the defensive line. He will help add depth with the departure of several key seniors from the line. Abe's strength and his get-off were the things that we noticed when we originally watched the film. He plays to the echo of the whistle on every snap."


ERIC FINNEY

STAR, 6-1, 205, Corona, Calif. / Centennial HS /College of the Canyons (CA)

Remaining Eligibility: Will have 3 years to play 3 starting in 2013

Junior College Coach: Garrett Tojague

High School Coach: Matt Logan

Intended Major: Kinesiology

Illinois Academic Recruiting Assistant: Amy O'Neill - Undergraduate Advisor, College of Applied Health Sciences (Kinesiology and Community Health)

Junior College: Sat out the 2012 season due to injury … Played in seven games in 2011, making 19 tackles with one TFL, one interception and one pass break-up.

High School: Played wide receiver in high school before switching to defense in college.

Beckman on Finney: "Eric is a big safety that can play the star position for us. He is a big athlete who runs extremely well and will provide depth and competition on the defensive side of the ball, as well as on special teams. Getting Eric here for spring ball was a huge priority for us."


DALLAS HINKHOUSE

OL, 6-5, 275, Clive, Iowa / West Des Moines Valley HS / Iowa Western Community College

Remaining Eligibility: Will have 3 years to play 2 starting in 2013

Junior College Coach: Scott Strohmeier

High School Coach: Gary Swenson

Intended Major: Communications

Illinois Academic Recruiting Assistant: Annie White - Football Academic Advisor

Junior College: Three-star recruit by Rivals … Ranked the No. 18 junior college offensive tackle in the nation by 247 Sports … First-team NJCAA All-American in 2012 after helping Iowa Western to the NJCAA National Championship and a Midwest Football Conference (MFC) title with a perfect 11-0 record … Helped pave the way for an Iowa Western offensive that led the nation in points per game (62.8) and yards per game (598.4) in 2012 … Team went 9-2 and averaged 482 yards per game in 2011.

High School: Two-time CIML Iowa All-Conference selection … All-Des Moines Team selection as a senior.

Beckman on Hinkhouse: "We're excited to have Dallas join the program. We graduated two key players on the offensive line that played a lot of football in their careers here. Dallas comes from a great program in Iowa Western where he learned how to work and compete for the last two seasons. He has played in two bowl games and won a national championship, making him exactly the kind of guy we want involved in our program."


ZANE PETTY

S, 6-1, 190, Corning, Calif. / Corning HS / Colorado State University / American River College (CA)

Remaining Eligibility: Will have 2 years to play 2 starting in 2013

Junior College Coach: Jerry Haflich

High School Coach: John Studer

Intended Major: Kinesiology

Illinois Academic Recruiting Assistant: Amy O'Neill - Undergraduate Advisor, College of Applied Health Sciences (Kinesiology and Community Health)

College/Junior College: Ranked the No. 11 junior college safety in the country by 247 Sports … Played in 11 games and racked up 90 tackles, seven interceptions - including one pick-six - and one fumble recovery as American River went 8-3 in 2012 … Was first-team All-Valley Conference in 2012 … Totaled 50 tackles and four interceptions in 2011 … Originally went to Colorado State and redshirted the 2010 season before transferring to American River.

High School: Played on both sides of the ball at Corning HS, leading the team with five interceptions as a senior … Also returned punts and kicks throughout his high school career.

Beckman on Petty: "Zane brings a lot of playing experience to a young secondary. He fills a critical need for us with the departure of several key seniors in the defensive backfield. We are excited to see Zane develop into a physical safety in our defense."





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