The lack of in-state football prospects north of Interstate 80 coming to Illinois next year is noticeable.
The greater Chicagoland area has produced prep phenoms like Laquon Treadwell of Crete-Monee, Ty Isaac of Joliet Catholic and Ethan Pocic of Lemont in the Class of 2013.
But Mississippi (Treadwell), USC (Isaac) and LSU (Pocic) are their college destinations instead of the school a few hours down I-57.
Seeing top in-state players leave the state to play college football rankles many Illinois fans. Understandably so.
The lack of players from the Chicago or the surrounding suburbs in the Class of 2013 dropped again on Monday after Lincoln-Way Central defensive end Evan Panfil flipped his commitment to Purdue.
This leave the class, now at 25 players (10 already on campus), with only four (Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey, Plainfield Central defensive tackle Bryce Douglas, Crete-Monee defensive back Jaylen Dunlap and linebacker Reggie Spearman) coming within an hour of what renowned CBS Sports Network recruiting expert Tom Lemming calls "the No. 1 area in the Midwest."
So what does Illinois have to do in order to crack the impenetrable wall the greater Chicago area has become to the program? It's a simple answer, according to Lemming, but one that is never easy to accomplish.
"To do that they've got to win," Lemming said. "The coaches have done their job. The organization is there. The early offers are there. The staying on top of the recruits and building relationships. Illinois has got great academics and very good facilities. What they're lacking are the wins."
It's not like Illinois is the only high-major football program within driving distance of Chicagoland.
There's Notre Dame. Northwestern. Purdue. Wisconsin.
Aside from doing better near and in Chicago, Lemming thinks Illinois needs to improve its foothold in the St. Louis area, Indianapolis area and Detroit area, other major metropolitan areas within driving distance of Champaign-Urbana.
"As soon as the arrow starts pointing north and it looks like the program is moving forward, which I think it will in this upcoming year, you'll start seeing these big-name guys consider Illinois," Lemming said. "The kids are just waiting for the wins."
Lemming said the work coach Tim Beckman has done in Ohio with this class (five players, including four-star recruit Caleb Day) plus their ties to the state are key.
"Ohio is the No. 1 state in the Midwest," Lemming said. "If you're going to have guys from any other part of the Midwest (besides Chicago), Ohio is the place to be. These guys have the connection to Ohio, and that's where they should recruit. If you hit those areas real hard, you're going to have success. Ohio is even better because if you have evaluating skills, you're going to find guys who other people have missed."