By the time Rivals.com released its top 250 players with the Class of 2013, Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey and Darby (Ohio) wide receiver/defensive back Caleb Day represented Illinois on that list.
Both weren't high on the list — Bailey checked in at No. 159 and Day was slotted in at No. 218 — but were still included in the field of elite players.
None of the four players who have given a verbal commitment to Illinois so far in the Class of 2014 — Centerville (Ohio) defensive lineman Tito Odenigbo, Lincoln-Way East (Ill.) offensive lineman Scott Allegretti, Naperville Neuqua Valley wide receiver Mike Dudek and Newark Catholic (Ohio) quarterback Chayce Crouch — have cracked Rivals' prestigious list so far.
These lists can fluctuate by the time the final rankings are revealed.
Plus, just because a player is ranked doesn't mean they'll have a standout college career. That's the glass half-full outlook for Illinois football.
The pessimistic viewpoint is last year's 2-10 season Illinois produced under Tim Beckman has affected recruiting.
The Illinois coaches are dealing with a perception problem that comes with any program that went through the struggles the Illini did last season.
Several of the state's top players in the Class of 2014 have already given their commitments to out-of-state schools.
Those players, who are on the list, include Chicago De La Salle running back Mikale Wilbon (No. 161 to Vanderbilt), Chatham-Glenwood tight end Daniel Helm (No. 175 to Tennessee), Glenbard North running back Justin Jackson (No. 225 to Northwestern) and Chicago Mt. Carmel defensive tackle Enoch Smith Jr. (No. 237 to Michigan State).
Five uncommitted Illinois prep players are ranked.
Clifton Garrett, a linebacker from Plainfield South, is the highest-rated at No. 55 with Crete-Monee linebacker Nyles Morgan (No. 83) and Chicago De La Salle offensive lineman Jamarco Jones (No. 97) cracking the top 100.
O'Fallon defensive end Dewayne Hendrix is positioned at No. 103, a significant jump from the initial rankings that were released in February that had Hendrix at No. 234, while Bolingbrook cornerback Parrker Westphal is slated at No. 229.