June 21 Alexander/Lunt chat

June 21 Alexander/Lunt chat

Friday, June 21, 2013 - 1:00pm

Ask recruiting blogger Matt Daniels about Cliff Alexander's weekend visit. Or what kind of impact Wes Lunt will have on Illinois football. Anything goes during his 1 p.m. Friday give-and-take - submit questions at any time.

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Greetings everyone. Matt Daniels here until 2 p.m. to tackle any and all recruiting-related questions. Sorry for the delay in the start. I'm down at Eastern Illinois helping with a high school journalism camp and just got done talking to EIU's prolific quarterback-wide receiver duo of Jimmy Garoppolo and Erik Lora. 

Enough of that for now. Let's get started

Anonymous User wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Lunt's arrival make Bailey learn a new position?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey anonymous,

Wes Lunt's transfer to Illinois from Oklahoma State has dominated the news regarding Illinois football and recruiting in general for much of the week. As it should. It's a big deal when a program like Illinois, coming off a 2-10 season last year, lands a quarterback of Lunt's talent.

Aaron Bailey from Bolingbrook excelled the most during his prep career with his feet. His throwing needs work on. At least initially, Bailey will compete at the quarterback spot. Tim Beckman has said ideally he would like Bailey, along with all incoming freshmen, to red-shirt. Bailey is a play-maker, so chances are he'll find his way onto the field. Who knows, at this point, whether that will be at a running back or a wide receiver on offense. He came to Illinois to play quarterback. That's the position he'll have the chance to do so. At least from the get-go. Now that may change in a year or two and if Beckman names Lunt his starter for the 2014 season and beyond. 

Red Grange wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

What other positions can Aaron Bailey play if Wes Lunt takes over at QB?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Red Grange,

Tackled this a bit in the last question. If Bailey has some of the talents you had from back in the day, just give him the ball and let him go to work.

Seriously though, Bailey is coming to Illinois having thrived at the quarterback position with the Raiders. He ran the option game to near perfection at times, so running back would most likely become the next logical position choice if the Illinois coaches decide they want Bailey to play somewhere else besides QB. Lunt and Beckman have both said they expect the quarterback position to be a competition. 

That's the correct thing to say publicly at this point. Until they get out on the field for the start of practices in August, that's where Bailey will be. Lunt will run the scout team this fall. I'd anticipate Bailey will red-shirt this season unless injuries happen to Nathan Scheelhaase. 

illini in longhorn land wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

What Are The Chances The Illini Only Get Wes Lunt For One Year? If He Has A Great Season What Are The Chances He Goes Pro? He Would Be 3 Years Out Of High School By That Point. Sorry For All Caps, Phone Having Issues Right now.

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Illini in Longhorn Land, 

I'd expect Wes Lunt to stay here for all two years, if not all three. At this point, that would make the most sense. 

Yes, he could go pro after the 2014 season since he is three years removed from high school, but he is coming off a freshman season where he was impressive at times, but needed to work more on his consistency. Plus, the injuries that have plagued his brief college career are an issue NFL teams would want to further evaluate. And they'd like to see him do more than complete every pass against Savannah State. He had a big game against Arizona (436 yards, four touchdowns) in his second start, but did throw three interceptions. 

Lunt will get every chance to land the starting quarterback job by the time the 2014 season opener against Youngstown State arrives. And he probably figures the best chance for him to come in and start right away is at Illinois. 

Palatine Kid wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Hi Matt!  Are there any concerns about Wes Lunt's history of injuries and his most recent ones in  particular?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Palatine Kid,

The injuries Wes Lunt has had (ankle, knee, concussion) in his freshman season at Oklahoma State are a warning flag. Obviously, football is a physical game and injuries are bound to happen (ask Tim Beckman about the topic and if he says everyone is healthy at this point, he'll find a wood table to knock on). Lunt broke his foot in high school as well, but that was the first significant injury of his football career. 

The time off from games in 2013 should help Lunt. He'll run the scout team this fall for Illinois, but defenders will most likely not be allowed to touch him. At all. Or even come close to him. The biggest recruit Beckman and his staff have reeled in will have every opportunity to head into the 2014 season with the best health he can possibly have. 

Dennis Bialas wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Can we expect to maybe see some highly rated WR, TE, and OL take notice Lunt's ability and maybe commit this year or in 2015?  Also will this have any effect for defensive recruits or will it come down to the won/loss record? Hopefully he will have success and make it an attractive place for future QB's to come as well. No reason the Illini should be on the bottomlooking up at the rest of the league

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Dennis, 

You can guarantee the Illinois coaches are pitching those aspects to offensive skill players. The news of Lunt arriving at Illinois caught the attention of several recent Illinois commits in the Class of 2014. Henry McGrew, the linebacker from Blue Valley (Kan.) High School, Nick Allegretti, a center from Lincoln-Way East, and Mike Dudek, a wide receiver from Neuqua Valley, all mentioned the fact to me this week. They had to look up some highlights on Lunt from his brief career at Oklahoma State and his time at Rochester, but what they saw impressed them all. 

For the defensive side of the ball, it should help, too. A productive offense, which Illinois fans are sure hoping for with the arrival of Lunt, only helps the defense. It gives them time to rest on the sidelines after a big, time-consuming drive and takes some of the pressure off the unit. 

Talking to Chayce Crouch this week, the Newark Catholic (Ohio) quarterback is eager to learn and watch under Lunt when he arrives in 2014. The feeling is probably mutual for any quarterbacks Illinois is targeting in the Classes of 2015 and 2016. A productive QB only helps in recruiting matters.

EFREM wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Do you think with the Lunt coming to Illinois, Beckman has bought himself at least another year, regardless, of the 2013 season? I really hope Thomas isn't influenced by all of the crazy posters who want Beckman fired after one year.    


 


 


     

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Efrem,

I would think you are right in the fact Beckman is probably safe until 2014. The only way I could see him not roaming the sidelines that season is if Illinois didn't progress this year, and by that, I mean finishing better than 2-10 and staying competitive in games longer than they did last season. 

Mike Thomas has stated before he would like the football program to be in a better position, but he understands a turnaround can't happen just in one season. Last year's debacle showed the level of recruits Ron Zook was bringing in during his final few seasons were not the caliber of what he was bringing in when he first arrived at Illinois. And all the injury problems Illinois had last year didn't help. 

The one coach to keep an eye on after the 2013 season ends is what happens with Bill Cubit. The veteran coach is a key reason why Lunt ended up choosing Illinois. If he has a good season at Illinois and the offense produces, who knows if Cubit wouldn't become a head coach again. 

The schedule for Illinois isn't kind in 2013. Tough non-conference games against Cincinnati and Washington are on the docket, along with opening Big Ten play at Nebraska. Wisconsin, Michigan State and Northwestern are all coming off productive 2012 seasons, not to mention the Buckeyes and Urbana Meyer will visit Champaign in mid-November. 

Dave C. wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Matt,


Wes Lunt made a specific reference to the recruitment of Springfield wide reciever, Malik Turner. I believe he said something about texting or calling him.Any Idea of how the Illini stand with Turner? Any other players Lunt myt try to influence? Also, how involved can players/recruits get with other prospective player recrutment? Are there limits on contact. Do coached encourage this?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Dave C.,

Malik Turner is one of the few well-regarded prospects in the Class of 2014 that Illinois has a shot with. It's a position group Illinois desperately needs to increase its numbers in moving forward. Turner plays at Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, which is coached by Ken Leonard, the father of Derek Leonard, Lunt's head coach at Rochester. That angle could prove beneficial for Illinois in going after Turner. 

Having Lunt on the Illinois roster has an influence on recruiting at Illinois. He brings name appeal and instant credibility to Illinois. 

The Illinois coaches are always talking about incoming recruits becoming their best recruiters. Nick Allegretti from Lincoln-Way East said he went down to two Illinois camps this month just for the sole purpose of talking to potential recruits in trying to steer them to Illinois. 

Anonymous User wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Are we too focused on getting "the Bigs", those 5-star high school players? I am always amazed how many of the very top college players, such as Burke and Oladipo, were not 5-star "bigs". There is an intense interest and focus on those players, which leads to a sense of failure when we don't land them. And how much effect do they really have when they leave after a year? I am finding myself maybe too disappointed when we don't get Lyle/Parker/etc. Do we really need to focus on Alexander and Okafor? If the coaching staff is great, can't they put together a spectacular season with the players we already have on the team? 

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey anonymous, 

The five-star players are attention-grabbers. They help the interest in a program build and help build recruiting success. That doesn't mean, though, that when they arrive on campus they'll live up to their billing. They very well could, but the expectations for these types of players are almost unrealistic at times. 

The Illinois fan base has every right to expect landing top-caliber players like Cliff Alexander, Jahlil Okafor, etc. Getting a player of their ability would be a program-changing moment. It would show the fact John Groce can land the best of the best high school players across the country, not just some of the better ones in the Midwest. 

No matter how good coaches may be, if they don't have quality players, they won't stay long at  school. The season Groce and Illinois put together this past season exceeded expectations of many fans, media and fellow coaches, who thought Illinois wouldn't even make a run at the NCAA tournament at this time last summer. 

IlliniMike05 wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I know it's early, but it seems like if Illinois is close to the front of the line for Carlton Bragg. Thoughts?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey IlliniMike05, 

Illinois is most certainly interested in Carlton Bragg, the power forward from Cleveland. So are a lot of other programs. The big names, Kentucky, Ohio State, Kansas, are starting to express more of an interest in the Class of 2015 talent.

Illinois was in on him early, especially given their ties to Ohio. He showed an ability to score points in bunches last winter for Villa Angela-St. Joseph, which ended up winning a state title. He would fill a need in the Class of 2015 for Illinois if Groce and Co. can't get a player like Alexander to head to Champaign-Urbana.

Skwirl21 wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Is Cliff's visit a surprise or was it scheduled? Does he have any other campus visits scheduled?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Skwirl,

Cliff Alexander of Chicago Curie is playing his recruitment close to the vest. He's not tipping his hand much yet about what schools stand out to him and what don't, what visits he has planned, when he wants to make a decision and other factors that come into recruiting. 

He visited Illinois last season for the Nebraska game, which came on the 50th anniversary of the Assembly Hall, so he has an interest in the program. A visit back to Illinois this weekend shows more interest, which is a good sign. I anticipate Illinois will be in the mix with Alexander until the end of his recruitment. 

Matt Daniels wrote on June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Going to wrap up this week's chat. Thanks for all the questions. Hoping to head out to Rochester this week to catch up with Wes Lunt, so be on the lookout for that. And I've got blogs lined up for next week about three of the six Illinois football commits in the Class of 2014 so far, so be on the lookout for that. 

Need anything else, shoot me an email at mdaniels@news-gazette.com or hit me up on Twitter @mdaniels_ng

Thanks and have a good weekend everyone!