Golesh: 'When you commit, you're done'
Illinois football has not had a new Class of 2014 recruit commit for almost seven weeks.
It's pretty clear why.
Illinois, with 12 commits already lined up and a small senior class, has nearly finished its Class of 2014, with three or four spots left to fill.
Just as noteworthy in the past seven weeks is Illinois has not had a player decommit.
While plenty of time remains until National Signing Day in February for a player to decommit, Illinois recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh said the Illini treat the commits like they're still uncommitted.
"In the sense that we recruit them just as hard," Golesh said. "We still write them letters just as hard. We still get on Facebook and Twitter. The only thing we ask of those guys is we tell them, 'This is your class. Now you recruit just as hard as we do.' We don't tell them what to do, but they kind of know who we're going after. It's all out there. We ask those kids to recruit their tails off, and some of those kids in the class are doing just that."
Illinois lost multiple players in the Class of 2013 when Kenton Gibbs (North Carolina State), Joshua Jones (North Carolina State), Reon Dawson (Michigan), Evan Panfil (Purdue), Kyle Kragen (California), David Guthrie (New Mexico) and Reggie Spearman (Iowa) reneged on their initial commitment to Illinois.
Having a poor season like Illinois did last year does not help in holding on to commits. Obviously.
But Golesh said he's not surprised about players switching after their initial decisions.
Doesn't mean he likes it, though.
"It's almost like the mutual respect has gone out the window, so you end up just making sure your board is deep enough," he said. "You're recruiting those other kids just as hard. You need to be honest with them, too, in that, 'Hey, we don't have one for you right now, but we're recruiting you in case something happens.'"
Which is how players like Jaylen Dunlap and James Crawford wound up at Illinois.
Of the 12 commits Illinois has, 10 are playing this fall, which enables them to post gaudy numbers and potentially have other coaches try to steal them.
Wide receiver Tyrin Stone-Davis and his twin brother, cornerback Tyree Stone-Davis, are redshirting this season at Pierce (Calif.) College, so they'll have three seasons of eligibility once they arrive at Illinois.
"We pride ourselves on being first on those kids and recruiting them hard," Golesh said. "The reasons why they committed are the reasons they're going to stay committed. At the end of the day, they're still kids. We've just got to recruit the heck out of them. The junior college kids are just as important as the high school kids."
Word leaks out quickly when a player does decommit.
Golesh said having solid relationships not just with the players, but the parents, coaches and mentors, helps out in avoiding a possible decommit.
And this does, too.
"We're pretty serious that when you commit, you're done," Golesh said. "As soon as you start messing around, we make it very clear. If you're taking other visits, then you're not committed. What I tell kids is if you're taking other visits, we're visiting other kids for your scholarship because we can't sit there and wait and hope on signing day that you'll be signing ours."