Tim Beckman’s program most likely won’t have a big recruiting class in 2014.
Roughly 15-16 new Illini should sign in early February based on the small senior class Illinois has this year.
All signs point to the Illini signing between 20-23 players with the Class of 2015.
The smaller class Illinois should sign in 2014 doesn’t mean the Illinois assistant coaches won’t have a busy fall recruiting-wise.
The Class of 2014, with its nine commits so far, is nearly halfway done, but they still need to keep recruiting those players until the letters of intents arrive via the fax machine in early February.
Illinois had multiple players give verbal commitments to Illinois in the Class of 2013 (Reon Dawson, Joshua Jones, Kenton Gibbs and Reggie Spearman, to name a few) before decommiting and signing elsewhere.
“You want to go see all your committed kids play,” Illinois recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh said. “You want to make sure you see 2015 kids play and there’s a couple guys we’re still waiting to make decisions on, so you want to go see those guys play.”
Illinois coaches can start making the rounds at high school football games on Sept. 1, when the evaluation period begins. It runs until Nov. 30.
The coaches, along with coaches at other Division I programs can use an allotment of 42 evaluation days spread throughout the entire staff. Picking and choosing when coaches hit the road is an on-going topic among Beckman's staff.
Having early kickoffs — of the six times set so far for Illinois during the 2013 season, three are at 11 a.m. — can lend itself to making tough choices about sending any assistant coaches out to any high school games the day before Illinois plays.
“If it’s an 11 a.m. game, Coach Beckman isn’t going to be big on anyone going out,” Golesh said. “That’s something you also have to take into consideration. We’re not big on getting coordinators out on Friday. You want to be with your team on Friday, so it all just depends, and then you’ve got to be smart about where you’re traveling.”
Golesh said last season five Illinois assistant coaches were out the Friday night before an 11 a.m. kickoff against Charleston Southern in Champaign.
Two weeks later, when Illinois opened Big Ten play with an 11 a.m. home game against Penn State, no coaches were on the road Friday night.
When Illinois played at Michigan, which was a 2:30 p.m. kickoff in Ann Arbor last year, the Illini had four assistants out Friday night.
Golesh was one of them, making a trip to Columbus, Ohio, and getting back to the team hotel around 2 a.m.
“That’s tough,” he said. “You don’t want to do that because you want to be fresh on Saturday.”