Peering into the Class of 2014 crystal ball
The Class of 2013 is almost sewn up for Illinois football head coach Tim Beckman and his staff.
National signing day is less than two months away for a large majority of the class.
While the players that make up Beckman's first full recruiting class will get plenty of attention in the next several weeks, we take a look at one player, position-by-position, who could factor into Illinois' future plans.
Clayton Thorson — 6-4, 190 — Wheaton North (Ill.) High School
By the time the 2014 season arrives, Nathan Scheelhaase will be gone and Reilly O'Toole will either have one or two seasons of eligibility left. Aaron Bailey appears next in line to possibly assume the starting role. We'll add Thorson to the list as well. Illinois will have to contend with Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina State, Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Penn State, among others, but has had success in the Wheaton area before (O'Toole, Jon Beutjer) at the quarterback spot. Thorson could be next.
Justin Jackson — 6-0, 175 — Glenbard North (Ill.) High School
Jackson has already played on the Memorial Stadium turf. Glenbard North lost to Chicago Mt. Carmel 28-14 in the Class 8A state championship game last month. He rushed for 2,612 yards and 35 touchdowns as a junior. He also returned an interception 76 yards for a touchdown in the state championship game. Illinois will have to deal with Boston College, Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Toledo and Vanderbilt, schools that have already offered Jackson, and many others.
Dominique Booth — 6-1, 195 — Pike (Ind.) High School
Booth, from Indianapolis, has garnered offers from across the country (California, Illinois, Mississippi, among many others) and interest will continue to pique in regards to Booth, and Illinois will likely need to show significant improvement in the passing game next season if Booth hasn't made a decision by then to lure him to Champaign-Urbana.
Daniel Helm — 6-5, 220 — Chatham Glenwood (Ill.) High School
Illinois is the only school to offer Helm so far, but that doesn't mean the attention and mail will decrease in the next year. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin are other Big Ten schools vying for Helm, who is originally from California. Location most likely won't matter in his recruitment.
Nick Allegretti — 6-4, 280 — Lincoln-Way East (Ill.) High School
Allegretti has offers from Illinois and Cincinnati, with interest from Iowa, Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Wisconsin. That will probably ratchet up in the ensuing months for the guard who helped pave the way for the Griffins to play for a Class 7A state championship last month.
Enoch Smith Jr. — 6-3, 265 — Chicago Mt. Carmel
Smith, a defensive tackle who helped the Caravan win a Class 8A state title last month, has offers from Mid-American Conference schools like Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Western Michigan, but also offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Notre Dame, Northern Illinois and Purdue. Chicago Mt. Carmel is one of the premier programs in the state of Illinois, and getting a player from there never hurts.
Clifton Garrett — 6-3, 220 — Plainfield South (Ill.) High School
While Garrett and another stud linebacker in the Class of 2014, Crete-Monee (Ill.) High School's Nyles Morgan, might be a stretch for Illinois at this point, they're players worth paying attention to. Garrett has an offer from a school in the BCS National Championship Game (Notre Dame), most of the Big Ten (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin) and a power out of the Big 12 (Oklahoma).
Parrker Westphal — 6-1, 186 — Bolingbrook (Ill.) High School
The defensive secondary is an area of need Illinois is addressing with its Class of 2013, but you can never have enough quality defensive backs. Westphal fits this mold. But Illinois will have to contend with much of the Big Ten (Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue) along with Notre Dame, West Virginia and Florida, in an effort to land what is one of the more sought-after players in the state.