If you are interested in being a student footballer while in college and Chicago is your choice of location for schooling, we recommended you consider attending any of the best football colleges in Illinois.
As football continues to be one of the most popular sports in the United States, many student-athletes strive to pursue a career in this highly competitive field. Choosing the right college can be a crucial factor in achieving this goal.
Illinois is home to numerous colleges with top-notch football programs, making it a popular destination for aspiring players. In this article, we’ll review some of the best football colleges in Illinois, including those with a long-standing tradition of excellence as well as some new up-and-coming stars.
We’ll also discuss key factors to consider when selecting a football college, such as the quality of coaching, facilities, and academic programs. Whether you’re a high school student-athlete looking to elevate your game or a football enthusiast interested in learning more about the college football landscape in Illinois, this guide is for you.
Are there football colleges in Illinois?
Yes, several colleges in Illinois have football programs. Illinois has a strong tradition of football, with both the University of Illinois and Northwestern University being members of the Big Ten Conference. In total, there are about 28 football universities in Illinois. To determine the best football schools in Illinois, there are several factors to consider, such as ;
- the team’s success on the field
- the quality of the coaching staff
- the resources available for student-athletes.
Do Illinois football colleges have an NFL team?
When it comes to football in Illinois, several universities have produced successful players and teams. However, it’s important to note that Illinois football colleges do not have an NFL team. The closest NFL team to Illinois is the Chicago Bears, who play their home games at Soldier Field in Chicago. To become a footballer in Illinois, aspiring athletes can start by playing in high school and then pursue a college football career at one of the best football schools in Illinois.
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Best football colleges in Illinois
Illinois is a state known for its passion for sports, particularly football. Many students aspire to become college football players, and Illinois has a strong reputation for producing talented athletes. We will be discussing the top ten (10) best football schools in Illinois and providing information on how to become a footballer in Illinois.
#1. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a renowned institution in the state of Illinois, known for its academic excellence and thriving football program. It is widely regarded as one of the best football schools in the state, with a rich history of success on the field.
The Fighting Illini football team has been a member of the Big Ten Conference since its inception in 1896 and has won five conference titles. The team plays its home games at Memorial Stadium, which has a seating capacity of over 60,000 spectators.
Also, the university has produced many notable football players, including Red Grange, Dick Butkus, and Jeff George, who have all gone on to have successful careers in the NFL.
#2. Northwestern University
Northwestern University is one of the top football universities in Illinois. Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern is a private research university that has a rich history in football. The Northwestern Wildcats have been playing football since 1876 and have won eight Big Ten Conference championships.
The team has also appeared in 14 bowl games, including the Rose Bowl. Northwestern has produced several NFL players, including Pro Football Hall of Famer Otto Graham and current NFL players Clayton Thorson and Justin Jackson.
Also, the team is known for its strong academic program, with a graduation rate of 97 percent and a focus on student-athlete well-being.
#3. Illinois State University
Illinois State University is one of the top football colleges in Illinois. The university’s football program, which competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, has a long and rich history of success.
The team has won multiple conference championships and has made several appearances in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs. Also, the program has produced several NFL players, including current Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Additionally, Illinois State University is known for its state-of-the-art facilities, including the Hancock Stadium, which underwent a major renovation in 2019.
#4. Eastern Illinois University
Eastern Illinois University is one of the top football schools in Illinois, and it has a storied history of success on the field. The EIU Panthers compete in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), and they have made 13 appearances in the FCS playoffs since 1982.
EIU has also produced numerous NFL players, including Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who played for the Panthers from 1999-2002. Additionally, EIU boasts a rich tradition of coaching excellence, with notable coaches including Bob Spoo and Dino Babers.
#5. Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University is undoubtedly one of the best football universities in Illinois. The university’s football team, the Western Illinois Leathernecks, has a long and rich history of success in the sport. The team competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and has won numerous conference championships and made multiple appearances in the NCAA Division I playoffs.
The Leathernecks have produced several notable NFL players, including Rodney Harrison, Bryan Cox, and Lance Lenoir Jr. The university also boasts state-of-the-art athletic facilities, including a newly renovated football stadium, which provides an excellent environment for players to train and compete.
Additionally, the university offers comprehensive support and resources to its student-athletes, ensuring their academic success alongside their athletic pursuits.
#6. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago Illinois has a rich history when it comes to football. The Maroons were once a dominant force in college football, winning two national championships in the early 20th century. The University of Chicago also played a significant role in the development of the modern game, with legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg leading the team and introducing many of the strategies and tactics that are still used today.
While the program has gone through periods of decline, the Maroons have experienced a resurgence in recent years, with multiple winning seasons and appearances in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The School has a fairly large population, and it awarded 2,163 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.
#7. Wheaton College Illinois
Wheaton College Illinois is a small private not-for-profit school located in Wheaton, Illinois that handed out 661 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021. Also, Wheaton College Illinois is a top-ranked private liberal arts college located in Wheaton, Illinois.
The college is known for its rigorous academic programs, vibrant campus life, and competitive athletics teams, including its football program. The Wheaton Thunder football team competes in the Division III College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) and has a storied history of national and conference championships.
Also, the team plays its games at McCully Stadium, located on the Wheaton College campus, which boasts a seating capacity of over 4,000. The Wheaton football program emphasizes academic excellence, leadership, and teamwork, and has produced numerous All-American players and successful NFL players.
#8. Illinois Wesleyan University
Illinois Wesleyan University is one of the top football universities in the state of Illinois. Located in Bloomington, this private liberal arts institution has a long-standing tradition of excellence in athletics, particularly in football. The school competes in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, a highly competitive NCAA Division III league.
The Illinois Wesleyan football team has won numerous conference championships and has made several appearances in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The team has also produced several notable alumni who have gone on to play in the NFL, including Jack Trudeau and Rocky Boiman.
Also, the school’s state-of-the-art athletic facilities, including the Tucci Stadium and the Shirk Center, provide a top-notch training environment for the football team.
#9. Augustana University
Although Augustana University is located in South Dakota, it has consistently been ranked as one of the best football schools in Illinois. The school has a winning tradition, with a long history of producing successful football teams.
Augustana competes in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) and has consistently been one of the top teams in the conference. The program has produced multiple NFL players and has had numerous players receive All-American honors.
Augustana also has state-of-the-art facilities, including a newly renovated stadium and practice field, giving their athletes the best resources to succeed on and off the field.
#10. Lake forest college
Lake Forest College is one of the top football colleges in Illinois, offering a competitive NCAA Division III program. The team competes in the Midwest Conference and has a rich history of success, winning eight conference championships and making multiple playoff appearances.
Lake Forest College also boasts excellent facilities, including the state-of-the-art Farwell Field, which features a synthetic turf field and LED lighting. The program is led by Head Coach Jim Catanzaro, who has been with the team since 2018 and has brought a renewed focus on player development and team culture.
Lake Forest College offers student-athletes a supportive academic environment, with a student-faculty ratio of 12:1 and a commitment to hands-on learning opportunities. The football program at Lake Forest College is a great option for those seeking a well-rounded college experience with a focus on both academic and athletic excellence.
In conclusion, Illinois is home to some of the best football colleges in the country. From the Big Ten powerhouse University of Illinois to the NCAA Division III national championship-winning North Central College, Illinois has a wide range of options for student-athletes looking to play football at the collegiate level. Each of these colleges offers unique opportunities for players to develop their skills, compete at a high level, and succeed both on and off the field.