Football writers Bob Asmussen and Matt Daniels will take your questions all day Wednesday when Tim Beckman announces his Class of 2013. Submit them ahead of time - or follow along during Signing Day.
Back from Tim Beckman's press conference. Pretty interesting stuff. The chance for playing time was a big selling point for Illinois. And, of course, the team's record in 2012 was used against it by rival schools.
Illinois has the most junior college signees since 1998, when Ron Turner took seven. Very few if any of those signees made it to the end of their eligibility at Illinois. A problem was that most of them came in August instead of signing midyear. I think that makes a huge difference.
Hello Bob, Christmas came early down here for Rebel fans. I tried telling folks on O&B that Hugh Freeze was going to have a heck of a class. All said they are cheating, they may be but I was impressed with the fact Hugh Freeze said to send any evidence to his complience dept. You seemed to be impressed with HF also, now he needs to show his coaching talents. I have a question for you I was glad to see that we have early entries this year and want to know if the press will get to watch spring ball? Thanks, Stump
Great to hear from you. You are right, a big day in Oxford. And I am impressed with Hugh Freeze. I can see him landing top players because of his personality and work ethic. When he got to Arkansas State, he made hundreds of appearances before the season started. That told me a lot about his drive and willingness to work. And I think he is a talented coach with a lot of interesting ideas.
Based on what Tim Beckman said today, we will be allowed to watch the Friday practices. I don't know how much access there will be beyond that. That's OK. I got used to not attending spring practices last year. The coaches have to do what they think is best for the program. But I wouldn't discourage any interest that there might be from fans and media.
I think the Fridays will give us enough of a look to see what Bill Cubit has planned for the offense.
Did you hear the crazy story about Alex Collins, the five star RB from Florida? His mom was upset he chose Arkansas over Miami so she took his LOI and ran away with it, and is no where to be found. Have you ever heard of something this strange? She couldn't stop him from going to Arkansas could she?
I heard about it right before I left for Tim Beckman's press conference. Crazy stuff. Shows you the emotion of signing day for some players and their families. To have the letter be legitimate, I believe a parent needs to sign it. It sounds like Arkansas will eventuallly get Collins. That story probably won't go away for a while. Wonder if Bret Bielema will let the freshmen do media interviews?
If you remember the recruitment of Moe Dampeer, his parents were spllit on where they wanted him to go to college. His dad wanted him to sign with Illinois, but his mom favored Oklahoma. He signed with Oklahoma, got off to a good start, but eventually didn't make it. You wonder if Illinois would have been a better choice.
Usually, the closer you are to home, the better it works. Not always, but usually. I think Alex Collins' mom wants him close to home. Based on what happened today, I think he should get far, far away. Ultimately, you have to let the kid pick the school.
With the lack of LB can any of the other defensive players be capable of filling the void?
I asked Tim Beckman about the lack of linebackers in this class. He said the returning depth made the position less of a priority. Jonathan Brown, Mason Monheim, Mike Svetina and a bunch of others are back at linebacker.
The position again becomes a priority for the class of 2014. I think you will see two or three linebackers in that class. This was a year where the coaches didn't need to take any. Once they lost Reggie Spearman, there was no need to force the issue.
Rivals.com ratings list the Illinois class at No. 46, eighth in the Big Ten. Indiana moved ahead of the Illini and is at No. 42.There is just one Illinoisan in the Hoosiers class: Morris tight end Danny Friend.
Over at Scout.com, Illinois is No. 40 overall and No. 5 in the Big Ten, ahead of Penn State, Michigan State and Indiana. Scout loves the Big Ten, listing Ohio State first and Michigan No. 2.
So, Mr. Daniels tosses Spearman under the bus simply because he changed his mind. Not nice.Less cheerleading, more reporting.
Didn't mean to throw Spearman under the bus. Sorry if it came across that way. Just from my perspective, it was entertaining to watch Spearman's decision-making process play out. It seemed the kid enjoyed the recruiting process. Honestly, who wouldn't if you're a high school senior and coveted by some high-major Division I football programs. Some players settle on a school and stick with it. Some don't. Every kid is different.
Thanks for reading.
Some interesting tidbits about signees for Illinois in Class of 2013.
— Ottawa's Michael Hermosillo's uncle is Dave Stewart, the former right-hander known for his time with the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays.
— Aaron Bailey of Bolingbrook will turn 19 during Illinois' regular season finale against Northwestern on Nov. 30.
— Jarrod Clements, a defensive tackle from Trotwood-Madison (Ohio) High School, is a cousin of former Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree
Interesting to see the different opinions about who has the best class in the nation. ESPN likes Florida, Scout goes with Ohio State. Rivals and 247sports like Alabama.
The Top 10s seem to be mostly the mixture of the same schools. Surprising to see UCLA jump on a couple of the lists. Could be Los Angeles is turning into a Bruins town instead of Southern Cal.
Illinois won't hire a defensive line coach for at least 10 days. The application deadline to fill Keith Gilmore's spot doesn't close until Feb. 16. Look for the spot to be filled the following week.
Look for several of the incoming Illinois players to get a chance as returners. Beckman realizes that was a problem for the team in 2012 and an area where Illinois can make major gains in 2012.
Just did a quick check of the Scout.com ratings and Illinois dropped a spot to No. 41. Those will be changing all day as different players turn in their letters. I think watching the way rankings are done would be a little bit like watching sausage being made. Not something I want to do. No offense to recruiting rankings or sausage.
Bob and Matt,
Which players are you most excited to see sign with Illinois and why?
Also, which of the returning players on both sides of the ball need to take the next step in their development?
Aaron Bailey is obviously the centerpiece of this year's class. Whether he can develop into a reliable quarterback and stay healthy will be interesting to see play out. Caleb Day has the potential to change games with his play. Just depends on where Illinois decides to put the Darby (Ohio) standout.
Watching to see how much Bryce Douglas could possibly play and if he could have the same effect on the football team his father Bruce had on the basketball game will keep Illinois fans intrigued.
As far as returning players, the position I think will need to improve the most — which will lump several players into — is the wide receivers. Spencer Harris and Ryan Lankford had brief flashes last season, but need to develop into more consistent playmakers. Illinois obviously struggled throwing the ball last year. Where you want to point the blame for that at could be directed at various players, but Illinois doesn't have that one game-changing wide receiver. At least not right now.
Time to check on the recruiting classes of former Illinois coaches.
Ron Turner's Florida International class is ranked No. 123 by Scout. All but one of his 19 players is from Florida.
Former Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, now in the same position at Maryland, has the No. 48 class.
Former Illinois recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell, now with Charlie Weis at Kansas, has the No. 55 class with the Jayhawks.
And former Illini defensive coaches Vic Koenning, Dan Disch and Keith Gilmore have the No. 30 class at North Carolina.
We are headed out to WDWS for Steve Kelly's show, where we will talk recruiting for another hour.
Thanks for participating today. It was a lot of fun. Three years from now, we will know what kind of impact the Illinois class had. Or sooner.
Check out our coverage in the paper Thursday.