Illinois football loses top 2024 recruit

Apr. 29—CHAMPAIGN — Michigan State's loss in the coaching change from Mel Tucker to Jonathan Smith was Illinois' gain. Just temporarily as it turns out.

Bret Bielema swooped in when four-star offensive lineman Andrew Dennis opted to re-open his recruitment in the wake of Tucker's firing last fall. The Illini ultimately landed the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Michigan native after beating out Penn State and Clemson, signed him in December and enrolled him in January to take part in winter workouts and spring ball.

Now Dennis is in the transfer portal, per 247Sports' Allen Trieu, after just a few months in Champaign.

Dennis was Illinois' highest-ranked recruit in the Class of 2024. The four-star offensive lineman was ranked as high as No. 153 nationally by Rivals and checked in at No. 162 in the country by 247Sports after a superb prep career at Mt Pleasant (Mich.) High School.

Illinois has now had 13 players enter the transfer portal this spring. Dennis is one of the highest-profile departures given his recruiting ranking.

The Illini also lost a potential starter at cornerback in Zachary Tobe, who committed to Georgia Tech on Monday, and Youngstown State transfer defensive lineman Anthony Johnson. The rest of the spring departures include offensive linemen Joey Okla, who has since committed to Wisconsin, and Will Leys, tight ends Griffin Moore and Owen Anderson, outside linebackers Calvin Smith and Jared Badie, defensive backs Elijah Mc-Cantos and Prince Ford and defensive lineman Dylan Davis.