Princeville alumni commits to U of I

For The Weekly Post

PRINCEVILLE – The move up from the Lincoln Trail Conference to play college football in the Big Ten is seldom made.

But 2023 Princeville graduate Kellen Francis, 19, has something few football players possess: a 6-foot-6, 320-pound body and an ability to pancake blockers.


A standout at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan., last year as a freshman, Francis has committed to play on the offensive line for the University of Illinois. He chose the Illini after receiving offers from seven Division 1 schools, including Arkansas.

“It was cool (to visit Arkansas), but as long as Illinois was in the picture, it wasn’t much of a question,” Francis said. “That’s always been the top choice.”

Francis did not have Division I offers coming out of high school. Then again, as a 5-8 freshman, Francis’ career as a Prince was no guarantee, either. But he grew steadily through high school, graduating at 6-31⁄2, and kept growing last year at Butler, where he played guard.

This spring, Francis practiced at right tackle, a factor that attracted even more attention from colleges.

“Since I have experience at guard, tackle and played center for three years in high school, (the U of I coaching staff) is just wanting me to come in and compete wherever,” Francis said.
He is the son of Mark and Rachel Francis of Princeville.

“All my friends and family are happy” about choosing the U of I, Francis said. “Now they can come and tailgate.”