Tom Lemming has seen his share of prized high school football recruits in the last three decades.
The nationally-renowned recruiting expert for CBS Sports Network is busy producing his latest ‘Prep Football Report 2013’ magazine where he takes a look at the top prospects across the country.
He personally evaluates and interviews them, bringing a comprehensive knowledge to the recruiting world many college coaches and fans covet.
For the nine Illinois commits so far in the Class of 2014, Lemming has evaluated and interviewed all the players who have given Tim Beckman a verbal pledge.
“They’re bringing in good athletes,” Lemming said. “They’ve got to start winning with their system. The staff was treated unfairly last year. The fans were already all against them. They didn’t really have much of a chance. They were playing with somebody else’s players. It never bodes well that way. I think they’re going to get the ship righted. I was impresed with the enthusiasm of Beckman and his staff. It goes all the way down from the head coach to all of his assistants.”
Talk of Beckman already on the hot seat after his first season didn’t help recruiting matters for Illinois.
At least that’s the way Lemming sees it. And has for some time.
“Other schools are using that against him,” Lemming said. “That hurt just as much as their record. Recruiting is such a sensitive field. Everything is in place at Illinois. Patience is the key word for the fans.”
And alumni. Especially the powerful alumni, Lemming said.
“When you start allowing the alumni to speak, you’re going to have a change of coaches every year because they’re not going to agree every year,” he said. “Then you’ll start to have this perpetual circus every 2-3 years where nothing gets better. It happened at Purdue this year. Danny Hope got fired aftre going 6-6 and things were starting to work very well at Purdue. It’s the powerful alumni. There’s always five or six of them that want to run the program. Whenever that’s allowed to happen, the program is caught in a perpetual loop of losing.”
Lemming said the addition of Wes Lunt to the Illinois program is a boost for recruiting purposes.
The Rochester product started his freshman season at Oklahoma State last fall and is expected to contend for the starting job once he is eligible for the 2014 season.
“I loved him coming out of high school,” Lemming said. “He’s got a great arm, and he’s a precision passer. He’s got some height, and he’s going to have to keep growing into his body, but Wes Lunt is another big catch for them.”
Lemming, a Chicago native who lives in the suburbs, said the Class of 2014 prospects from Illinois are “outstanding this year.”
“Next year it looks like it may be very weak, but all the guys Illinois has gotten so far (in the Class of 2014) are big-time guys,” Lemming said. “Everybody can prosper this year, and Illinois is doing it this year. It’s not just Chicago area kids that stand out in Illinois either. You’ve got six or seven kids down near the St. Louis area and up in the Springfield area as well who are legitimate players.”