Signing day ’23: Illinois State adds to its roster with spring recruits

The Redbirds are coming off a 6-5 season under head coach Brock Spack. ISU’s 2023 season opener is Sept. 2 against Dayton. (Photo by

By Dan Verdun

Illinois State’s football program announced Wednesday via social media that the Redbirds have signed two prep players and two transfers to its 2022-23 recruiting class.

ISU signed defensive back Paul Omodia (George Bush High School in Richmond, Tex.) and linebacker Jamarcus Smith (American Heritage High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) to national letters of intent.

According to the recruiting website, Omodia had offers from FBS member Louisville and FCS schools Prairie View A&M and Southern University. He is listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds.

Smith had offers from FBS Coastal Carolina and three FCS teams: East Tennessee State, Eastern Illinois and Fordham, according to Smith is listed at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds.

The two transfers are wide receivers Braden Contreras (Valparaiso University) and I’Shawn Stewart (Eastern Michigan).

Contreras, a Hinsdale native, caught 30 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns in 2022. In Valparaiso’s 28-21 loss at Illinois State in September, Contreras had three receptions for 28 yards.

Stewart, a Bolingbrook product who originally committed to Oregon State out of high school, had no catches this past fall. Stewart appeared in 13 games for Eastern Michigan in 2021. He had four receptions for 35 yards and recorded three special teams tackles.

These four players join the December early signing class of 25 players, which included two preferred walk-ons.

The Redbirds’ early signing class featured Bolingbrook High School standout Josh Robinson, a running back who had 13 offers including seven Mid-American Conference schools as well as Army and Air Force.

Illinois State also announced Wednesday the addition of the following players as preferred walk-ons:

+OL Aaron Effert (Brookfield Central HS in Brookfield, Wisc.)

+OL Jacob Finley (Williamsville HS)

+LB Mark Haering (Edgewood HS in Madison, Wisc.)

+LS Claude Strnad (Loyola Academy)

+WR Valient Walsh (Mahomet-Seymour HS)

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