Golesh: 'We're selling playing time'
The 2012 Illinois football season ended at 2:04 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24 in Evanston after a 50-14 dismantling at Northwestern.
Less than 24 hours later, the Illinois coaches were starting work on reaffirming commitments and securing new commitments from players for the Class of 2013.
"I had a 6 a.m. flight out the next morning (after the Northwestern game)," said Alex Golesh, the Illinois recruiting coordinator who also coaches the tight ends and specialists.
Since the Illini's season has ended, Illinois has gained three commitments from the junior college ranks in California, with perhaps a few more joining the Class of 2013 before signing day arrives on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
The current number of commits is up to 24 right now, with scholarship limits set at 25, but because the staff didn't use all of its scholarships on the Class of 2012 and since a few current Illinois players might test the NFL draft waters, that number can be increased for the Class of 2013.
What's the greatest area of need head coach Tim Beckman and his staff are looking at solidifying with the few remaining scholarship offers they have?
"Definitely wideouts, offensive line and the secondary," Golesh said. "We're working on our committed guys every week and trying to finish up this '13 class. At the same time while we're in the areas seeing those '13 guys, we're obviously hitting up juniors as we go and sophomores. It's getting kind of crazy."
Golesh said Illinois' pitch to potential 2013 recruits still wavering about their decisions is an easy one.
"The one thing Coach Beckman is really selling when he's sitting in homes is there's a lot of holes," Golesh said. "If you want to make an immediate impact at Illinois right now, you can do that at certain spots. We're selling playing time and the university and saying 'Hey, be the reason why we get this thing turned.'"
Golesh said the past two weeks have seen him on the road from Sunday night through Thursday.
He arrives back in Champaign-Urbana later in the day on Thursday to solidify on-campus recruiting visits that are planned for that weekend.
The rest of the coaching staff tries to arrive back on campus by Friday before hitting the road again on Sunday.
As far as possible staff changes affecting the current recruiting, Golesh said he doesn't pay much heed to that.
"I'm not sure where that's coming from, to be completely honest," he said. "I think that's coming more from (the media) than anybody that's actually got the ability to make any staff changes. I don't even know if our kids realize it or think about it."
Illinois has had one player in the Class of 2013, senior defensive tackle Kenton Gibbs out of Cass Tech High School in Detroit, de-commit, but Gibbs is still considering Illinois.
Even with the 2-10 season and current nine-game losing streak Illinois is on, no other players in the Class of 2013 have jumped ship.
"You always recruit the guys that are committed just as hard as the guys that aren't committed because until signing day, you're recruiting every single kid on that board," Golesh said. "I think the biggest thing, at least with my philosophy and coach Beckman's philosophy, is we are on the same page in terms of we're going to coach and teach the kids that are here as hard as we possibly can. The kids that want to be here are going to get coached, and the kids that want to be here are going to be part of turning this thing into a big-time program. If a kid doesn't want to be here, so be it. You look across the country, there are teams that have had great years that are losing commitments."
Despite the struggles on the field this year, Golesh said recruiting is much easier this year compared to finalizing the Class of 2012 considering Beckman and his staff had less than two months to secure those players.
"Last year Joe Spencer, whose one of our offensive linemen (in the Class of 2012), brought up a funny point," Golesh said. "He said, 'Coach, last year on my visit, I was telling you guys where the business building was. Now you're actually able to show us where the business building is.' The weekends are a lot better because we actually know what we're talking about when a kid is on campus."