Recruits check out Chicago practice
Alex Golesh came away pleased with the Illinois football team’s practice on Friday evening at Gately Stadium.
The chance to get into Chicago and have a number of signed players and potential targets witness the Illini in action was a key reason for Illinois to hold Friday’s two-hour practice.
“It was awesome,” said Golesh, the Illinois recruiting coordinator. “We had a bunch of guys here. Most of our top guys from around here were here. Our signed guys were here, and I’m sure they were doing a little bit of recruiting, which is what we wanted. This is a neat stadium, and it’s cool to be able to come up to the city and represent Illinois here."
Some Class of 2014 prospects on hand included Chicago Mt. Carmel defensive tackle Enoch Smith Jr. and his teammate, running back Matt Domer, along with Montini Catholic linebacker Niles Sykes.
Expect Illinois to make a strong push for a player like Sykes (6 feet, 3 inches and 220 pounds).
Linebackers and wide receivers are the two position groups Illinois is targeting the hardest in regards to the Class of 2014.
“You look at our roster, we have five scholarship wideouts who are seniors when we moved Steve Hull over, and they’ve all played a lot of games,” Golesh said. “We’ve got to take a couple linebackers. Those two positions are our biggest needs.”
The first full class Illinois coach Tim Beckman and his staff put together in February comprised of 25 players.
Based on the numbers, Illinois doesn’t anticipate signing that many players in the Class of 2014.
“We’ll sign somewhere between 16 and 20,” Golesh said. “You have to be more selective, but the hardest part is last year we recruited off the hype. Offensively, you’re recruiting off a new coordinator (in Bill Cubit) and defensively, you have what you have. Is it harder? It’s harder because you have less scholarships and it’s harder a little bit because you’re fighting a little bit of a perception (problem). We’re still selling ourselves, the academics and the family atmosphere. Our kids are our best recruiters. They genuinely love it, and we treat our kids well.”
Class of 2013 signees like Peoria Richwoods running back Kendrick Foster and Darby (Ohio) wide receiver/defensive back Caleb Day were in attendance on Friday.
Like Beckman said Friday evening, Golesh agrees in wanting to make the spring practice in Chicago an annual event.
“We sat around in December and we were talking about taking over Chicago,” he said. “We do our summer camps here, and they don’t get a lot of attention from media or a recruiting standpoint, so let’s really make a big deal about it and put a spring practice there. I thought it was really good.”