National Signing Day for the top football prospects in Class of 2014 is oh, a mere 356 days away.
But for college football coaches, recruiting is a year-round job.
And for the fans that can’t wait until Feb. 5, 2014 arrives, Rivals.com released its list of the top 250 prospects in the Class of 2014 on Tuesday.
Da’Shawn Hand, a 6-4, 245-pound defensive end from Woodbridge, Va., who has offers from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, among others, is the top prospect in the class.
While Illinois does not have the upper hand in Hand’s recruitment, per se, it is in decent shape with a handful of other high school juniors.
Illinois had two players in quarterback Aaron Bailey from Bolingbrook (Ill.) High School and wide receiver/defensive back Caleb Day from Darby (Ohio) High School that made their way onto the final list Rivals.com had featuring Class of 2013 prospects.
Adding more elite recruits coming out of high school is an area most Illinois fans would like to see happen.
So would Illinois head coach Tim Beckman for that matter.
Here’s a quick glance at a few players in the Class of 2014 who are on Illinois’ radar from Rivals.com’s Top 250, which includes nine players from Illinois.
Derrick Nnadi: Listed at No. 37 on Rivals.com’s list, the 6-foot-2-inch, 288-pound defensive tackle from Virginia Beach, Va., also has offers from Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Clifton Garrett: The 6-3, 220-pound linebacker from Plainfield South (Ill.) High School counts Illinois, Arizona State, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Mississippi, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue and Wisconsin among his offers. Garrett is the highest-rated Illinois prep player on this list, checking in at No. 53.
Nyles Morgan: Built almost identical to Garrett, the Crete-Monee (Ill.) linebacker checks in at 6-2, 220, and boasts offers from Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, UCLA, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. He is listed at No. 70.
Jamarco Jones: The highest-rated offensive lineman in Illinois (No. 94 overall), the 6-5, 285-pound Chicago De La Salle product has offers from Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, Tennessee, Toledo, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.
Dante Booker: The 6-3, 210-pound linebacker from LeBron James’ alma mater (St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio), has attracted offers from Illinois, Indiana, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee, and is No. 99 on Rivals.com’s list.
Jamil Kamara: Another Virignina native, the 6-2, 196-pound wide receiver from Virginia Beach has offers from Illinois and most of the ACC, including Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others for the 106th best prospect.
Mikale Wilbon: The 5-9, 190-pound running back from Chicago De La Salle has Arizona State, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi State and Purdue, along with Illinois, interested in his services. Wilbon is slated at No. 151.
Dravon Henry: A safety from a proud football tradition in Aliquippa, Pa., the 6-0, 185-pound Henry has offers from Georgia Tech, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Toledo and West Virginia, and is No. 157 on Rivals’ list.
Austin Roberts: A 6-2, 210-pound wide receiver from Carmel, Ind., Roberts is slotted in at No. 160, and aside from Illinois has offers from Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Miami, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue and Stanford.
Nick Richardson: A 6-4, 285-pound offensive tackle from Westerville, Ohio, (an area Beckman and his staff will most likely mine again for next year’s class), Richardson has offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan State, along with his Illinois offer.
Daniel Helm: Playing his high school football 90 minutes from Champaign, the 6-5, 220-pound tight end from Chatham-Glenwood (Ill.) High School, Helm fits in at No. 201 on the list. Along with Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina State and Tennesse are among the schools courting Helm.
Parrker Westphal: A high school teammate of Bailey’s at Bolingbrook, the 6-1, 186-pound defensive back, who is clocked in at No. 213, has offers from Illinois, Cincinnati, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue and West Virginia.
Justin Jackson: A 6-0, 175-pound running back from Glenbard North (Ill.) High School, Jackson has Illinois, Boston College, Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern and Purdue, among others, vying for his skill set. Jackson is listed at No. 222.
Erick Smith: A 6-1, 185-pound safety from Cleveland, Smith, who is listed at No. 228, has offers from Illinois, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina State, Ohio State and West Virginia.
Dewayne Hendrix: The defensive end from O’Fallon (Ill.) High School and high school teammate of current Illinois defensive back Darius Mosely, Hendrix comes in at No. 231. Along with Illinois, Indiana, Kansas State, Michigan State, Mississippi, Missouri, Northern Illinois and South Florida are interested in the 6-5, 240-pund Hendrix.
Clayton Thorson: The strong-armed 6-4, 190-pound quarterback from Wheaton North (Ill.) High School, Thorson turns up at No. 234. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina State, Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Penn State are all offers the suburban Chicago product is considering.