As Illinois continues to take steps forward under coach Tim Beckman and his staff, more difference makers are on the way in the class-of-2014.
The biggest fish of all thus far committed on Thursday night in four-star defensive tackle Jihad Ward, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed with 247Sports.
Out of Globe Institute of Technology, the 6-foot-7, 286-pound Ward is ranked by 247Sports as the nation's No. 2 JUCO defensive tackle and No. 6 prospect overall.
Ward took his official visit to Champaign in late November and was recruited by Illini assistant Bill Cubit. He is the 18th commit for Beckman and company in the class-of-2014.
In choosing Illinois over offers from the likes of South Florida, West Virginia, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Washington, Ward becomes the second JUCO commit ranked inside the 247Sports Top25 for the Illini, joining four-star receiver Tyrin Stone-Davis. All together, Illinois has six JUCO pledges in 2014.
Ward will enroll at Illinois in the summer.
For more on the Illini recruiting class, click here.