CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Illinois head coach Mike Small announced Wednesday (Nov. 8) the signing of three incoming freshmen – Jake Birdwell (Blaine, Minn.), Joseph Buttress (Perth, Australia), and Trey Marrion (Chesapeake, Va.) – to the Fighting Illini men’s golf roster. The trio will join the Illini next fall as freshmen for the 2024-25 season.
“I am very excited about what this year’s signing class brings to our program,” Small said. “Besides the quality of person that they all are, each one of them brings athleticism, high-level tournament experience, and a deep-seeded desire to compete for championships. All three of them will fit in perfectly with the culture that Illinois golf has sustained over the years.”
JAKE BIRDWELL | BLAINE, MINN. | SPRING LAKE PARK HIGH SCHOOL
BIRDWELL’S HIGHLIGHTS: Birdwell signs with Fighting Illini after winning the 2023 Minnesota State High School Championship and being named as the state’s High School Golfer of the Year. Having competed at the high school level since seventh grade, Birdwell enters his senior year in 2023-24 as a three-time all-state selection, a five-time all-conference honoree, and a two-time team MVP at Spring Lake Park. As a junior last season, Birdwell posted a scoring average of 69.2. Birdwell is also a three-time academic letter winner and a four-time member of his high school’s A Honor Roll. Birdwell advanced to match play at the 2023 U.S. Junior Amateur and captured tournament titles at the 2023 HJGT Disney Open, the 2021 JGAA New Year’s Classic (Boys 13-14), the 2020 AJGA Preview at Meadowbrook, and the 2018 HJGT Links at Northfork.
QUOTING BIRDWELL: “I chose Illinois because the coaches are the best in the country. I want to make it to the next level and Coach Small is the best coach in the country to help me do that. The team environment and practice facilities are also one of the best in the country.”
SMALL ON BIRDWELL: “Jake is a prototypical modern-day golfer, and he can ‘flat out’ compress a golf ball. His level of club head speed and ball speed is something that can’t be taught, and because of that, he has the potential to be a very special player.”
JOSEPH BUTTRESS | PERTH, AUSTRALIA | AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN COLLEGE
BUTTRESS’ HIGHLIGHTS: Buttress is a top junior golfer in Australia where he has been honored as…