Aug. 2 football/recruiting

Aug. 2 football/recruiting

Friday, August 2, 2013 - 1:00pm

College football writer Matt Daniels, who also blogs about recruiting, is at your service at 1 p.m. each Friday. Submit questions of any kind at any time and he'll do his best to respond.

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Hope everyone has had an enjoyable week. Matt Daniels here to answer any Illinois football or recruiting questions you may have for about the next 45 minutes to an hour.

Illinois football starts practices on Monday at Memorial Stadium. Tim Beckman's second team will stay in Champaign for all of next week before bussing up to Rantoul on Aug. 11, with practices set to get going in Rantoul at 9 a.m. on Aug. 12.

Talked to Bill Cubit recently, and we'll profile the new Illinois offensive coordinator in Sunday's News-Gazette while also taking a look at plenty of other topics concerning Illinois football.

Had a chance to catch up with the three JUCO players Illinois received verbal commitments last week along with Class of 2014 commit Michael Finke. I'll be rolling out stories on all four individuals on my Recruitng Wrap blog during the next week.

Enough talk from me right now. Let's get started with the questions.

Rich Patton wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm

How has Penn State done in recruiting in football since the scandal?  The sanctions and scholarship restrictions were supposed to hurt Penn State.  What effect have they had to date and what do you predict the long term effects will be?  How did they do in the class of 2013 and how is the class of 2014 progressing?

Thanks - Rich

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Hey Rich,

Surprisingly, Penn State has held its own. Bill O'Brien pulled in 17 players in the Class of 2013, which includes the possible starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions this season in five-star recruit Christian Hackenberg. O'Brien said last week at Big Ten Media Days Hackenberg hasn't worked out with the team much yet this summer, but is expected to contend for the starting job this fall.

Having an 8-4 season like Penn State did last year certainly didn't hurt recruiting efforts. O'Brien's offense also showed what is possible under the former New England Patriots assistant coach.

The long-term effects on recruiting sanctions for Penn State probably won't be felt until 4-5 years down the road. One aspect to watch is how long O'Brien will stick around State College. If he has a few more seasons like he did last year, plenty of NFL teams will take note.

With the Class of 2014, Penn State has 13 commits, with four four-star recruits in the fold, including another promising quarterback, Micahel O'Connor. The number of transfers last year and a few this year have hurt Penn State, but the Nittany Lions are still humming along — for now — on the recruiting trail.

Mid-Mo Illini wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Matt, thanks for the chats. In a recent article you said something about the Illini having 5 or more scholarships for 2015. I see only 3 with Rice, Abrams, and Egwu all graduating. Do you know of others leaving early? Cosby can not play until 14 and 15? That is the only current scholarship I see for 2016. If all incoming Freshman and Paul stay until graduation that gives 6 in 2017 correct?

 

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Hey Mid-Mo Illini,

As it stands right now, on Aug. 2, 2013, Illinois has five scholarships available for the Class of 2015. Rayvonte Rice, Tracy Abrams and Nnnana Egwu will have graduated by then, along with the departures of Jon Ekey and Ahmad Starks, two transfers John Groce has brought in the last four months.

Aaron Cosby will have to sit out the 2013-14 season, but will have eligibility to play during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season. Darius Paul will sit out this upcoming season, but will have three seasons of eligibility (2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17) moving forward during his time at Illinois.

As far as the Class of 2017 scholarship numbers, I'm not even going to put out a guess right now as to what the scholarship situation will look like. Scholarship numbers are incredibly fluid, as was evident this past offseason for Illinois, and the number available will inevitably change by the time the Class of 2017 (incoming high school freshmen) makes their college decisions.

LARRY HARNLY wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm

what are the chances of rochester product zach grant, a wide receiver,  transferring to illinois this fall?  he transferred to northern illinois for the second semester and will sit out the '13 season.  he would be reunited with quarterback wes lunt at illinois.  would northern illinois have to give him his release?  think that would happen?

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Hey Larry,

Thanks for the heads-up on Zach Grant transferring to Northern Illinois. That's the first I've heard of it. Grant and Wes Lunt obviously had good rapport during their high school days at Rochester. Haven't heard anything of Grant transferring to Illinois. It'd be highly unusual if he did after switching schools so quickly, but the way players are transferring these days in college athletics, don't rule anything out.

I'm not sure if Grant is on scholarship at Northern Illinois, so not entirely sure about the details if NIU would have to release him. It's an intriguing possibility and one worth monitoring. Thanks for the info!

John M. of DC wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Matt, I think one of the long term problems with Illinois football is that we as Illini Nation have an unrealistic view of what is possible and what is not. The BCS Division of the NCAA F/B programs are separated into two groups: the "have's" ie Alabama, Ohio St., Notre Dame, and the "have not's" ie Illinois, Indiana, Iowa St., etc. If we look at Pat Fitzgerald and the Northwestern program, that is the model. Win 6 games or more per year and go to a bowl game every year. In order to win you need the athletes, but to get the athletes you need to win. That is Beckman's problem. What is possible this year? 4 win's? Will that be sufficient progress so that Thomas can say we are headed in the right direction? If so how many years has Beckman got to produce a bowl eligible team?

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Hey John M.,

Northwestern and Northern Illinois are the premier college football programs in the state right now. No question about that. Pat Fitzgerald has things humming in Evanston, and whoever seems to coach the Huskies in DeKalb has consistently put out a winner for the last decade or so.

The outlook for Illinois football this year isn't good. They were picked last to near last in the Leaders Division in any and all sorts of preseason polls, and not many players really garnered much preseason accolades.

Sufficient progress this year will be for Illinois to field a more competitive team. The 2-10 record didn't help matters last year, but the way Illinois lost so many of its games didn't sit well with fans. And they have the right to voice their complaints.

Beckman enters the second year of a five-year contract. I'd imagine he'd see the third year of that unless there is a significant step back this season. For any glass half-full Illinos fans out there, take heed in this. The only other time Illinois football finished 2-10 in a season (2006), it went to the Rose Bowl the next season. Like my colleague and longtime football writer Bob Asmussen is known to say, you're never sure what to expect out of Illinois football every season.

BrianA wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Is Illinois going to get involved with the guard who just decommitted from Louisville 

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Hey BrianA,

Reports are out there Illinois has offered a scholarship to the Louisville, Ky., native who decommited from his hometown Cardinals on Wednesday. Snider is a four-star recruit in the Class of 2014 and while a bit on the small side (6-1, 150), has legitimate skills.

Illinois transfer Aaron Cosby, a Louisville native, tweeted on Thursday that Snider "knows he can call me when the dust settles, he got a lot on his plate right now." We'll see if that relationship helps out Illinois, but expect a strong list of colleges to get involved with Snider's recruitment now that it's back open.

rickybing wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Hi matt my question for you today is what should we expect from the transfers coming in and other than wes lunt do you think beckman picked up on any guys who could be "program changers" so to speak do you think beckman is doing a good job rejuvinating this team at this point id be happy with a 500. Season

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Hey Ricky,

Some of the five junior college transfers should start for Illinois when it opens the season Aug. 31 against Southern Illinois. Two in particular, wide receiver Martize Barr and STAR Eric Finney, are listed atop the depth chart at their respective positions. Abe Cajuste could find himself in the rotation on the defensive line, and his versatility to play either an end position or a tackle spot could help the Miami native out. Safety Zane Petty put up some impressive numbers in his two junior college seasons and could help out an inexperienced unit while Dallas Hinkhouse is in a reserve role to start the season at left tackle.

Wes Lunt is the biggest program changer in the Class of 2014. You get a player who started as a true freshman in an offense as dynamic as Oklahoma State, you have talent. The two wide receivers Illinois landed last week, Tyrin Stone-Davis and Geronimo Allison, are intriguing prospects who have big upsides. As far as the incoming freshmen, the one to watch during practices and at Camp Rantoul is Aaron Bailey. How will the Bolingbrook product throw? How does Illinois plan to fit him into its offensive plans, if they want to, in 2013?

Beckman proved at Toledo he could turn the program around. It's a tougher task in the Big Ten, as was evidenced with last year's season. I think most Illinois fans would be ecstatic with a .500 season and a bowl appearance after what transpired in 2012.

Anonymous User wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm

With the Illini FB commit list at 12, how big a class do you think they will take? What positions do you think they will concentrate on the rest of the way? Who do you think are the highest rated recruits they actually  have a chance at? Seems they would need to get some impact players on both sides of the trenches! Also why is Ryan Nowicki not on the roster? Seems like all that episode from last year got us is alot of bad press. When of all people Urban Meyer thinks you went behind somebodys back, that's not very good.

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Hey anonymous,

Lots of questions there. I'll try to break them down one by one.

I wouldn't imagine the Illinois football Class of 2014 to be larger than 17 players. With only 15 seniors on the roster, that doesn't lend itself to bringing in a large class. By having 12 commits before the high school and junior college seasons start, Tim Beckman and his staff can really hone in on the 2014 players it wants to go after, and, at the same time, keep a firm grasp on the 12 players it has received verbals from so far. Illinois lost a handful of players from September on in regards to the Class of 2013. Who knows what will transpire with some of the commits if they have strong 2013 seasons and other schools pick up interest, but that is an area Illinois coaches might have to concern themselves with.

Offensive line is a priority now for Illinois. Nick Allegretti, a center from Lincoln-Way East, is the only offensive lineman. Getting a tackle or a guard, or both, is a focus for the Illinois coaches moving forward. Aaron Roberts from Chicago De La Salle is a guard Illinois is in good position with.

Ryan Nowicki transferred to Northern Arizona this summer. Will try to get an answer as to why once practices and fall camp gets rolling.

BrianA wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Any new names to watch after the July recruiting period 

 

How is Bob A doing ?

will be be at rantoul at all 

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Hey BrianA,

A few. Prince Ali, a guard in the Class of 2015 from Florida, piqued John Groce's interest. And while Illinois coaches had been watching Plainfield East guard Aaron Jordan for a bit, Groce extended a scholarship offer to him in mid-July. Point guard Jawun Evans from Greenville, S.C., is another possibility moving forward in that class, along with the usual list of players like Jalen Brunson, Charles Matthews, Jalen Coleman and others.

The focus for 2014 still remains Cliff Alexander and LeRon Black, two elite power forwards. Getting one would be a huge deal for Groce and Illinois.

Bob Asmussen is getting better by the day. It's good to have him back around the office, and he should be up in Rantoul to check in on Illinois when he can.

Matt Daniels wrote on August 02, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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Going to wrap up the chat this week. Thanks for all the football and recruiting questions. Make sure to check out The News-Gazette next week for plenty of coverage on the start of Illinois football practices.

Talk to you all soon.