Camps speed up recruiting process
The camp circuit is making June a busy month for the Illinois football coaches.
After spending the first weekend of the month in the Chicago suburbs, Illinois had an on-campus camp Friday night at Memorial Stadium before heading south for a Saturday night camp at O'Fallon High School.
By the time the camps wrap up this month, Tim Beckman said he expects at least 2,000 high school football players to take part in the showcases.
Jaylen Dunlap and Michael Hermosillo were signees Illinois wrapped up after seeing them at these type of camps last summer.
Hermosillo, of course, is on his way to rookie ball with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but Dunlap could help the secondary down the road after filling that role at Crete-Monee.
While it is nice to unearth a few up-and-coming seniors in June, the real goal of the camps is different now than it used to be.
"What’s changed is you’re evaluating a lot more going-to-be sophomores and going-to-be juniors at camps in June," Illinois recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh said. "It used to be where you were just evaluating soon-to-be seniors."
High school freshmen and sophomore basketball players can pop on the recruiting radar with strong performances in AAU basketball during the spring or summer if they don't have overly impressive high school campaigns.
In essence, these showcase camps for football now are like the AAU basketball tournaments.
It's an opportunity for players to boost their recruiting or solidify where they stand with a particular school.
"What it means, too, is you’re evaluating a lot more sophomore film than you ever did," Golesh said. "Honestly, I think what happens is you end up missing on kids more that develop as seniors. There’s a lot of great football players that have great senior years. One reason is they just develop late, and two, they’re in great programs. At great programs, they’re not playing as sophomores. They’re just not. You can evaluate all the sophomore film you want, but if a kid isn’t playing as a sophomore, you can’t evaluate him."
Last year, Illinois had 15 of its 20 high school signees committed before their senior season started, and that number changed based on some previous commits like Joshua Jones, Reon Dawson and Kenton Gibbs flipping their commitment.
"That’s why the Boise States and the TCUs of the world have become what they are," Golesh said. "At least five years ago they weren’t getting a bunch of early commitments. They’re thinking, ‘That’s fine. If kids want to go to Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, that’s great. We’ll take the rest, and beat those guys with the rest.’"
The importance of having a solid recruiting class early on in the process isn't lost on coaches.
It's not only an aspect fans pay attention to, but incoming recruits take notice as well.
Once one recruiting class is finalized, it's on to the next one.
"There’s a fine line of perception," Golesh said. "Even in recruiting, kids want to see that their class is going well."