Tim Beckman spent most of last week meeting with players.
Current ones the Illinois football team has.
Beckman, just like every other college football head coach, can’t hit the road recruiting right now.
Even at this critical juncture — the evaluation period — where assistant coaches are on the road for the majority of the time.
“I like being on the road,” Beckman said. “I like recruiting. The (assistant) coaches tell us where they went to, and what school they went to. I make sure I’m sending an email out to those coaches to act as if I’m there.”
He’s not, though. Wishes he could be.
But because of NCAA rules first adopted in 2008 barring head coaches from working on the recruiting trail with their assistants during this time period that started April 15 and runs through May 31, Beckman has to find other ways to keep in tune with recruiting.
He hears from his assistants frequently, but he had one-on-one meetings with players who currently make up his roster.
“I meet with the seniors for 15 minutes and then I meet with each one of the underclassmen for 10,” Beckman said. “There was five straight days of that from about 9 a.m. until 4 in the afternoon. It’s what you have to do, in my opinion. It’s about the players, so I get feedback about what we’re doing right or wrong. What can we do to get better?”
The last question is one on the forefront of many Illinois football fans.
A schedule that doesn’t seem challenging like it was in 2013 lends one to reason a bowl game isn’t out of the question.
Which wasn’t the case after the first two seasons under Beckman, and it wasn’t a selling point the Illinois coaches could take with them into the homes or schools of recruits, either.
“After the first year, there’s no question that was the hardest year to recruit,” Beckman said. “We were very, very successful with that recruiting class. though. It’s kind of interesting with how recruiting is going now because it’s not as much about winter, but right now because kids are committing now in the (spring and summer), and not as much in the winter. Prior to the first year of play, we had quite a few very, very good players commit early, like Aaron Bailey. We played absolutely awful that year, so now you’ve got to battle to keep them because there is a lot of the naysayers everywhere, not just coaches you’re recruiting against. That year, the goal was to keep them, but the next year, now you’re battling that losing season.”
The perception of Illinois recruiting is a solid one right now — even coming off a 4-8 season and only one Big Ten victory the last two seasons — especially with last Friday’s pickup of four-star left tackle Gabe Megginson from Jacksonville.
More will join the Class of 2015 in the next nine months, as Illinois expects to have scholarships available for 22 or 23 recruits when it’s all said and done.
“It’s another part of building a family,” Beckman said. “I love being able to talk about our coaching staff, and I love being able to talk about our players to recruits. With some people, and I think it’s gotten out of hand a little bit, it’s all about the four-star and five-star kids. It should be about, ‘Does the player fit in your program?’ Not just football-wise, but in your program, period.”