Illinois landed a possible program-changing quarterback in the Class of 2013.
Bolingbrook's Aaron Bailey fits that description.
Illinois didn't land the program-changing wide receiver or possible linebacker who can affect the game in a meaningful way.
At least that's the opinion of Jared Shanker, ESPN.com's Midwest Regional Recruiting Coordinator, on the class of recruits Tim Beckman and his staff have put together.
Illinois finalized its Class of 2013 on Wednesday when 15 high school seniors signed letters of intent to round out the 10 players who are already on campus and enrolled.
The 25 players is a large upswing from the Class of 2012 (19 players) Illinois signed in Beckman's first two months on the job. In fact, the number of players who signed on Wednesday alone is only one less (15) than the total number of players from the Class of 2012 who are still on the roster (16).
Chief among those 15, for Shanker, is the 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound quarterback who helped Bolingbrook win a Class 8A state championship at Memorial Stadium in 2011.
"The player that stands out for me is Bailey," Shanker said. "He's the big quarterback that they're bringing in. When Nathan Scheelhaase is done, things could open up and Bailey could have the opportunity to come in and be the man. I don't know if they'll redshirt Bailey or give him some time to learn behind Reilly O'Toole, but things are shaping up for Bailey to at least make a push for the starting job."
That is, most likely, after Scheelhaase finishes his senior season.
Then again, probably nothing is off limits for Beckman and his staff after last year's 2-10 showing.
The lack of linebackers in the class (none after Chicago Simeon's Reggie Spearman, who gave a verbal commitment to Illinois in early August, decided Tuesday night he was heading to Iowa) stands out to Shanker.
But the depth the Class of 2012 had in that position (Mason Monheim, Mike Svetina and T.J. Neal) makes up for the absence of a true linebacker in this class. Beckman said Wednesday linebackers in the Class of 2014 will be a priority.
While Illinois did land four wide receivers (junior college transfer Martize Barr along with high school seniors Michael Hermosillo, Marchie Murdock and Dionte Taylor) and a running back in Kendrick Foster who rushed for more than 6,000 yards in high school, Shanker doesn't see players who could contribute significantly in 2013.
"Whether it's somebody on the outside or at running back, there's no one that really stands out and who could make an immediate contribution," Shanker said. "There is a little bit of room for improvement as far as guys coming in who can automatically make a dynamic impact on offense."
January proved to be a turbulent month at times for Illinois, with defensive back commits Joshua Jones and Reon Dawson reneging on their verbal commitments before Jones picked North Carolina State and Dawson settled on Michigan. Illinois landed James Crawford from St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School and Jaylen Dunlap from Crete-Monee to offset those losses in the defensive secondary.
Nearly half the class Illinois has compiled did not have the big-name offers of programs from power conferences. For those players, Illinois was one of their best offers from a plethora of Mid-American Conference schools.
"It could be a reason to worry," Shanker said. "A lot of these guys jumped on that Illinois offer right away. You could look at it both ways. One way is that Illinois really evaluated them well and was ahead of them or the fact is they did just beat out a few MAC schools. I'd at least give the staff the benefit of the doubt. If these guys haven't developed by the end of year three (under Beckman), then there's going to be an issue."
Shanker said the staff is making inroads in Ohio, a crucial state in the Midwest for recruiting, but said Illinois still need to land some of the top prep prospects from Illinois moving forward.
"If I'm looking at 2014, the big thing that I might start worrying about is how they're going to do in-state," Shanker said. "They did whiff on a lot of guys, and they weren't really in contention with several of them."
Shanker doesn't think the poor start to Beckman's tenure at Illinois negatively affected his staff's recruiting efforts with the Class of 2013 too much.
Another season, however, like the one Illinois endured this past fall, and recruiting could start to take more of a significant hit.
"You've got some mixed reviews as to how much that 2-10 record did affect them," Shanker said. "It seems they can close fairly well and can plug in some holes that they unexpectedly lost. They lost a few that might have helped. College football coaches have a quick hook. They don't always get that third year. The hot seat hasn't been turned up enough yet (for Beckman). I don't think it has an effect on this class. In 2014, it could. Especially if things don't turn around."