What does Rayvonte Rice's addition mean to John Groce's scholarship count? How big of a deal is Aaron Bailey? Who's the next big name for Tim Beckman to win over? Ask HQ recruiting expert Cody Westerlund, who is chatting today.
Afternoon everyone, Cody Westerlund joining you for a recruiting chat. Fire away if you have questions, what is in the queue seems all kind of related. Always looking for creativity here. As I'm sure you've heard by now, the big news is that Bolingbrook junior quarterback Aaron Bailey verbally committed to Illinois last night. He was the top priority for the coaching staff. Check the story out here.
Let's get to it.
Can you explain a bit more how Aaron Bailey - or any other valuable recruit - can influence other high schoolers to join his college team? Are there NCAA rules that restrict activities of verbal-committers?
Good question. High school recruits are allowed to pretty much do any type of recruiting/swaying/pitching/etc. of their own to fellow prospects that they want. To my knowledge, there aren't any rules saying what they can and can't do. One main reason that is, I presume, is because they aren't representing the university in any way yet. Their verbal commitments are non-binding, so they really repersent the university in word. Recruits can change their mind at any time, as can the coaching staff. Thus, it's not viewed as a university representative making contact in any way.
How can they help? Well, Aaron Bailey can get on the phone and call Illini recruiting targets. He can Facebook them, tweet them and pretty much talk to them as much as they're willing to listen to him. He can be another recruiter, it's really as simple as that. And that's why the staff thought Bailey was so important. He's not just a football player, he's a leader. And unlike a leader like, say, current starting QB Nathan Scheelhaase, Bailey is from in-state and knows some of these other targets.
It should be noted that Shane Morris, a 2013 quarterback recruit of Michigan's, has been instrumental in helping sell the Wolverines. Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said Morris goes to Ann Arbor almost every time the school has a visit weekend, helping sell it to the other recruits. And he talks to many of them throughout the week. The hope is that Bailey can have a similar effect -- maybe not to such a degree or such a time commitment, but in opening some doors and making other prospects think about Illinois longer and harder.
What effect will Bailey's commit have on in-state recruiting? Can he be like a pied piper? Who do you see maybe following him to the Illini? Any chance we will start seeing some D-line recruits soon. Seems like upfront would be our biggest need, maybe even on both sides.
Playing off the last question, I think Bailey makes other recruits think more about Illinois. The toughest part for a new staff at a place like Illinois is getting that first elite recruit to take that leap of faith. It gets easier from there because you can sell to others that someone so significant is on board.
Like it or not, perception matters in recruiting. How a program is viewed by many parties (high school coaches, the media, on the national scene, by other recruits) matters in picking up future prospects. And adding Aaron Bailey helps Illinois football's perception immensely. And that's the effect he'll have. Illinois doesn't have a better chance to get players because Bailey is best friends with a bunch of guys from the Chicago area. They have a better chance to get players because an elite player has taken a leap of faith and others won't be so hesitant to follow.
Hard to get specific on names who may be next, but here's some quality recruits in-state who Illinois is in good position with: OL Jack Keeler of Barrington, DB Jalen Banks of Harvey Thornton and O'Fallon DB Darius Mosely. Harder to get a read on Ethan Pocic of Lemont, but Illinois is still right there with him as well.
You bring up the D-line. I wouldn't expect a lot of action at the DT position, the staff really likes the current players they have at that position and won't take many guys there (maybe only 1). The priorities now are WR and DB, as is the O-line. With two O-linemen committed already, I'd expect Illinois to hold out for some of the bigger-name prospects there.
I see where Depaul offered 5-8 Tyler Ulis today. Do you see Illinois offering the 2014 guard soon....or are they after "bigger" fish??
I find Tyler Ulis (2014 point guard from Marian Catholic) to be a fascinating prospect. And disclaimer here, I haven't seen him play, so this is all based off what I've read and heard. You either love him because he has the ball on a string and is as natural of a point guard as they come, or you don't like him because he's too short and you think that will be a real detriment to him at the high-major level. I'm sure there's some in between, but that seems to be much of the vibe I get.
I see Illinois continuing to closely evaulate Ulis. The staff is well aware of him. Coach John Groce mentioned yesterday one of the reasons he likes the April evaluation period being opened up again is because it allows coaches to see a lot of kids, regroup on campus with the other coaches to discuss and evaluate them, then focus more specifically on certain players in the July period. I expect Ulis will be one of those players the staff looks hard at in July.
So to answer your question, I don't see an offer for Ulis coming real soon here. He's only a sophomore, so plenty of time left in that recruitment. I do think there are bigger names the staff wants in a perfect world, but when the games start next fall and everyone sees that ball-handling and point guard play is an issue, maybe the "offer Ulis" crowd/idea gains more steam. Because he solves some ball-handling issues in a hurry from what I understand.
Cody: Do you know of any basketball recruits that have visits scheduled in the next few weeks?
Not sure there, as many parts are still in motion.
Won't be anything this weekend, obviously, because everyone is out on the road for AAU ball. Then the next weekend there's another round of AAU tournaments as well, though not all the big progams are playing. There's been some names rumored to come, but it's real fluid right now. Nothing set in stone, but we'll let you know when players are scheduled to come or on campus.
Wondering what the word on Tommy Hamilton Jr. is since his injury. Have schools pulled back enough that the Illini might be able to get a leg up? Is that even worthwhile at this point? The need for size is the only reason he remains intriguing it would seem.
From what I understand, yes many schools have pulled back. At this point, that includes Illinois. I wrote this last week, but he's got to go play for a full summer and prove what he's made of without getting injured. Programs, especially at a place like Illinois where there's already a lack of size, can't afford to use a scholarship on someone who can't be out there. Until he puts together consistent strong play and is healthy, he's probably not worth the risk.
Does he still have a good chance to go to a high-major? I think so, because it only takes one school to be infatuated with that talent, which he does have. But for a school in Illinois' situation, he's not the priority. Gavin Schilling of De La Salle is the focus now in the 2013 class of big men.
How do you see the recent preferred walk-on offer for Cory Dolins to DePaul affecting the recruitment of his good friend, Jabari Parker? Word in the DePaul circles is that gives them an "80% chance" of landing Parker. I sure hope Illinois makes the best of that remaining 20% (hope everyone has their sarcasm meters turned on).
This made me chuckle when I saw this, and I don't mean that as a shot at the DePaul program. This is well within the rules and, in fact, is a great idea. Really no downside there at all. I met Cory Dolins, a senior at Niles West, when I went to the state tournament to profile Jabari Parker. They're best friends, and Cory is a great kid who I'm sure will work hard, and that's going to do nothing but help the program.
I laugh because of the fan reaction that you point out. I don't see this helping DePaul much. I'm not saying DePaul isn't in the picture, because they still seem to be. I'm just saying that this doesn't change the factors that seem to matter most in Parker's recruitment. Those include winning, a positive relationship with the coaching staff and finding a school where he's comfortable still being active in his Mormon faith, among other things.
Jabari Parker is such a grounded, deep-thinking individual that I don't see a spur-of-the-moment addition by DePaul being much of a factor.
And let me add this: I like it because everyone is pulling out all the stops in such a significant recruitment. I find that cool.
(But for some reason, I just can't see Tom Izzo and Coach K and Calipari and Roy Williams sitting around going, "Crap, our chances of landing Parker really just took a hit.")
What is going on with the women's basketball recruiting? Now that Aaron has committed what does this do to the QB's that are already here?
Sorry for the delays, had a phone call. I don't follow women's basketball recruiting, so I can't help you there.
The Bailey situation is interesting as to how it affects the quarterback situation at Illinois. I don't see it affecting much immediately because I don't see true freshman Bailey beating out Nathan Scheelhaase as a senior. But after that, I can see some good competitions between Bailey and Reilly O'Toole. If it gets to the point that Scheelhaase is the guy for the next two years, that would bode well for Bailey playing sooner because O'Toole wouldn't have experience.
But O'Toole will have every chance to continue proving himself and earn playing time this fall, which will be an important one for him in learning the new offense. If he were to work his way to the top of the depth chart, then everything changes. Very difficult to project now. That's a question we can probably address much better next fall when we've seen Scheelhaase and/or O'Toole in Beckman's offense.
I want to say I am impressed with the new regime already, two quality student athletes who will improve both programs immediately. As both Groce and Beckman go further with garnering roots in the local recruting scene, do you think these signing will help to open the eyes of coaches and players through out the state that the Illini is the place to be.?
Having such a presence in the state and making inroads gives both Groce and Beckman a good foot in the door. It does not make it the "place to be."
What does make it the place to be is winning, more than anything. Do that, and it gets easier, everything falling into place. Sometimes it takes a kid or two to make a big leap of faith and be the player to get you over the hump. Sometimes it just takes recruiting the right fit and coaching them up well. Sometimes it's a combination of those. There's many factors at work here, but it's a bottom-line business. You need to win.
Hey all, I'm going to wrap it up for today. Thanks for the questions as usual. Be back same space and time next week. Have a good weekend, and if you're running in the Illinois Marathon, say hi to me. Or just give me some water, I could use it over the course of those 13.1 miles as I run the half.