LENA, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–When Bret Bielema took over as the head football coach at Illinois, he said he would make it a priority to recruit in-state players. He had made good on that pledge again.

He is welcoming Lena-Winslow senior Henry Engel onto his football team as a preferred walk on. Engel signed his letter of intent Tuesday afternoon in the Le-Win gymnasium with several of his teammates and coaches looking on.

Engel is an all-State defensive lineman who helped anchor a Le-Win defense that helped the Panthers win state championships the last two years in Class 1A.

Engel says the University of Illinois’ engineering program is what attracted him to that school. The football opportunity on top of that is a big bonus.

“They actually have the Grainger School of Engineering which is one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the U.S., and I got excepted there a couple weeks ago. That combination of football and engineering, and that’s the field that I want to go into, so having that there is really nice.”

” It’s always been a dream (playing Big Ten football). Following in the footsteps of Gennings Dunker (former Le-Win Panther now at Iowa), all the big guys who have been through here so finally being in that spot is crazy.”

“Henry’s got a great work ethic,” said Lena-Winslow head football coach Ric Arand. “He’s number one in his class in the classroom, so that says a lot about who Henry is, and he was always going out of his way to better himself. Yea, just truly a pleasure to coach.”