10 Top Football Colleges in Illinois (Career, FAQs) | 2023

Illinois has a vibrant football scene, with several colleges/universities offering exceptional football programs that combine athletic prowess, academic excellence, and a supportive team environment. 

Whether you aspire to play at the collegiate level or want to witness thrilling games as a passionate fan, the football colleges in Illinois have something for everyone. 

From Division I powerhouses to Division III gems, these institutions allow student-athletes to showcase their skills on the gridiron while pursuing their academic goals. 

This article will explore the top football colleges in Illinois for the 2023 season, highlighting the institutions that have established a strong reputation for producing talented athletes.

Is Football a Good Career Path?

Soccer is a great profession since players get paid well and get to see the world. There is always something new to learn about the game and the world.

In addition, the sport offers various post-playing job paths, such as coaching and managerial positions.

One of the first things to consider if you want to play football professionally is how much schooling you’ll need. We found that 79.0 percent of NFL players hold a bachelor’s degree.

Regarding advanced degrees, we discovered that 3.7% of football players hold a master’s.

Even though most professional football players have college degrees, those with just a high school diploma or GED can enter the field.

10 Football Colleges in Illinois

1. Western Illinois University (WIU)

Western Illinois University is a hub of athletic excellence. 

The Leathernecks compete in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a proud football program. 

WIU’s dedication to both academics and athletics creates a well-rounded student-athlete experience. 

The university’s state-of-the-art facilities and passionate fan base contribute to the electrifying atmosphere on game days, inspiring athletes to reach their full potential on the field.

2. Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU)

Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) is one of the top football colleges in Illinois.

Competing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, SIU’s football program has a rich history and a solid commitment to success. 

Student-athletes at Southern Illinois University have all they need to succeed academically and on the field.

3. Northwestern University

Northwestern University’s Wildcats bring a fierce competitive spirit to the football field. 

Competing in the Big Ten Conference, Northwestern offers student-athletes a chance to showcase their skills against top-notch competition while pursuing a world-class education. 

The university’s commitment to excellence, both academically and athletically, creates a nurturing environment for student-athletes to thrive.

4. University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is one of the top football colleges in Illinois.

They offer an exciting opportunity for student-athletes in the heart of Chicago. 

Competing in the Horizon League at the Division I FCS level, UIC provides a platform for athletes to showcase their talents while pursuing their academic goals. 

The vibrant city backdrop adds a unique energy to the football program, creating an unforgettable experience for players and fans.

5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign boasts a prestigious football program. 

With state-of-the-art facilities and a commitment to academic and athletic excellence, the university provides student-athletes with a supportive environment to thrive both on and off the field.

6. Olivet Nazarene University (ONU)

ONU offers a competitive football program within the Mid-States Football Association. 

Known for their Tigers, ONU fosters character development alongside athletic achievement. 

With a commitment to values-based education, students can pursue their football dreams while receiving a well-rounded academic experience.

7. Eastern Illinois University (EIU)

Eastern Illinois University (EIU) is one of the top football colleges in Illinois.

The school’s Panthers proudly represent the university in the Ohio Valley Conference. 

With a dedicated fan base and a competitive football program, EIU offers student-athletes an opportunity to make their mark in collegiate football. 

From exciting game days to a supportive community, EIU provides a platform for athletes to thrive on and off the field.

8. Quincy University (QU)

QU is one of the top football colleges in Illinois.

With a focus on academic success and athletic excellence, QU offers student-athletes a chance to excel in both realms. 

Supported by a tight-knit community, athletes thrive in an environment that values their growth and development.

9. Illinois State University (ISU)

ISU’s Redbirds dominate the football scene in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. 

With a strong football tradition and top-notch athletic facilities, ISU creates an environment where student-athletes can showcase their skills. 

ISU provides a well-rounded collegiate football experience by emphasizing a supportive community and academic achievement.

10. University of St. Francis (USF)

The University of St. Francis Fighting Saints makes a mark in the Mid-States Football Association. 

Combining athletic prowess with a commitment to education, USF offers student-athletes the opportunity to pursue their football dreams. 

With a focus on character development and academic excellence, USF creates a supportive environment for athletes to thrive and succeed.

Why Should You Attend Football Colleges in Illinois?

1. Endless Football Passion

Attending football colleges in Illinois means immersing yourself in a state known for its unwavering passion for the sport. 

From electrifying game-day atmospheres to dedicated fan bases, the energy and excitement surrounding football in Illinois create an unforgettable experience for players and fans.

2. High Level of Competition

Illinois is home to numerous prestigious football colleges, offering high competition. 

By attending these colleges, student-athletes can test their skills against top-tier opponents, showcasing their abilities and pushing themselves to reach new heights in their football journey.

3. Strong Coaching Staff

Illinois football colleges boast experienced and knowledgeable coaching staff dedicated to nurturing talent and guiding players toward success. 

These coaches bring their expertise to the field, providing valuable mentorship and guidance that can significantly enhance a player’s skills and overall development.

4. Academic Excellence

Illinois is renowned for its exceptional academic institutions, and attending football colleges in the state means gaining access to top-notch education alongside athletic pursuits. 

These colleges prioritize academic excellence, providing student-athletes with the resources and support needed to succeed in their studies while pursuing their football dreams.

5. Rich Football Tradition

Illinois has a rich football tradition, with many colleges establishing storied sports histories. 

Students join this proud legacy by attending football colleges in Illinois.

They join a community that cherishes its football heritage and values the dedication and commitment it takes to succeed on and off the field.

6. Networking and Exposure

Illinois football colleges offer excellent networking opportunities and exposure to scouts, recruiters, and professional organizations. 

The state’s vital football programs attract attention from various levels of the sport, increasing the chances for talented athletes to be noticed and advance their careers beyond the collegiate level.

FAQs on Football Colleges in Illinois

Which college has the largest number of sports teams?

Harvard University is renowned for its extensive athletics program and boasts the largest number of college sports teams. With an impressive 42 Division I intercollegiate teams, Harvard offers various sporting opportunities for student-athletes across various disciplines.

Which college football team holds the distinction of being the oldest?

The University of Southern California (USC) is recognized as one of the oldest college football teams. USC’s football program traces back to 1888 when it fielded its first American football team. The team debuted on November 14 of that year, securing a 16-0 victory against the Alliance Athletic Club. This historical milestone solidifies USC’s place in the early history of college football.

Is the University of Illinois known for its strong college football team?

The University of Illinois has a rich football history and successful seasons. While the team’s performance may vary yearly, the Fighting Illini have a dedicated fan base and a proud tradition that adds to the excitement of college football in Illinois.

What are the top five college sports in terms of popularity and engagement?

The top five college sports in popularity and engagement are football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and volleyball. These sports attract large audiences, generate significant media coverage, and captivate fans nationwide with thrilling competitions and rivalries.


Now that you’re familiar with the football colleges in Illinois, it’s time to take the next step in your football journey. 

If you aspire to play college football, contact the schools mentioned in this article to learn more about their programs, admission requirements, and scholarship opportunities. 

Attend their recruitment events, showcase your skills, and connect with coaches to showcase your passion and dedication. 

Football in Illinois is a thrilling experience, and whether you’re a player or a fan, don’t miss out on the excitement that awaits you in the 2023 season!

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Righteous Godwin
Righteous Godwin

Righteous Godwin, a graduate of Mass Communication, is a content and creative writer. Her passion for writing compels her to give her all to every project she undertakes.

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