Dec. 13 football/recruiting chat

Friday, December 13, 2013 - 1:00pm

Football beat writer Matt Daniels here to answer any football questions you might have about Tim Beckman's team or any recruiting-related queries you have about what Beckman and John Groce are doing on the recruiting trail. Feel free to submit them ahead of time.

Mike Goebel (moderator) — 10:32 AM on Fri, 12/13/2013

From Jim Helms on our IlliniHQ Facebook page: Are we recruiting any kids with other B10 offers?

Matt Daniels (moderator) — 01:06 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Hey Jim,

Illinois coaches are recruiting players who have other offers from Big Ten schools. There's not an overwhelming number of those in the Class of 2014, mainly because most of the scholarships are used up.

But some of the players they are still going after, like Cincinnati Winton Woods defensive tackle Daniel Cage, has a top five of Illinois, Cincinnati, Louisville, Michigan State and Missouri. Cage is set to be at Illinois this weekend for an official visit, along with a multitude of other prospects.

The 14 commits Illinois has so far didn't have the best offer lists when it pertains to other Big Ten schools offering. Chicago Mt. Carmel running back Matt Domer had an Indiana offer. Center Nick Allegretti from Lincoln-Way East had Indiana among his final few schools.

Most of the commits Illinois has in the Class of 2014 had interest from several Big Ten schools, but no offer on the table. For some recruits, like wide receiver Mike Dudek, other Big Ten schools were wanting to see what they would do during the summer at various camps before extending an offer. Dudek committed to Illinois in mid-April, so he didn't hit the camp scene much this summer.

The big sticking point with the Class of 2014 is how well Illinois will develop these players once they arrive on campus. There isn't a four-star or five-star recruit in the group right now, but several players, like Dudek, Domer, Allegretti and others, had superb senior seasons. Allegretti is going to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in a few weeks, so there are some quality players Tim Beckman is hoping he can build around. But it's not the snazziest class in school history. At least on paper.

Matt Daniels (moderator) — 01:00 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Good afternoon everyone.

Matt Daniels here to answer any Illinois football and any recruiting-focused questions you might have.

The Illinois football coaches have been traveling throughout much of the country these past two weeks, from spots across the state of Illinois, Iowa, California, Florida, Ohio, Missouri and along the East Coast. Mid-year enrollees are expected to be announced at some point next week, although I'm not sure exactly on what particular day.

Illinois should have a handful of commits on hand for classes in the spring semester, which will allow them to take part in spring practices once those get going in mid-March.

We already have one question posted from our IlliniHQ Facebook page, so let's get started.

Steve Z — 01:06 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Hey Matt,      Any early enrollees among the football recruits?  Any buzz on St. Rita basketball player Dominique Matthews?? Looks like hes had some big scoring games recently..

Matt Daniels (moderator) — 01:12 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Hey Steve Z,

Yes, there will be several early enrollees among Illinois football commits in the Class of 2014.

Expect junior college wide receiver Geronimo Allison to be on campus, along with Neuqua Valley wide receiver Mike Dudek, Newark (Ohio) Catholic quarterback Chayce Crouch, East Coast Prep (Mass.) offensive lineman Peter Cvijanovic, Springfield (Mo.) Lighthouse Academy tight end Jordan Frazier and the Stone-Davis twins, wide receiver Tyrin and defensive back Tyree, to possibly be among the early enrollees.

Last year Illinois had 10 early enrollees, and Tim Beckman is a big proponent of getting the players on campus as soon as possible. Especially given the wide receivers Illinois will have to replace next season, enrolling early could prove beneficial for Dudek, Allison and Tyrin Stone-Davis in order to get on the field sooner.

Dominique Matthews is a senior guard at Chicago St. Rita and older brother of St. Rita guard Charles Matthews, who is a consensus top-15 player in the Class of 2015. The elder Matthews doesn't have the ranking that his younger brother does, but he has carried the Mustangs early in the season.

He has some offers from mid-major programs and is probably the best unsigned senior in the state at the moment. Don't look for Illinois to get involved with Dominique Matthews as the roster is pretty much set for the foreseeable future and with the Class of 2014 already full. But if there is a roster defection at the end of the spring and Dominique Matthews hasn't signed anywhere, who knows? He's certainly have a superb start to his senior season at St. Rita.

Steve in Forsyth — 01:12 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Matt:  What's the latest on Paul James and Dami Ayoolah?  Will they have a realistic shot of rejoining the team?  Also, give us your best shot at who Illinois gets down the stretch to commit with remaining schollies available.  Will they oversign to allow for some natural attrition or just take 3 or 4 more players?  Thanks for the chats!

Matt Daniels (moderator) — 01:19 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Hey Steve in Forsyth,

It appears Paul James will be back with Illinois. Not too sure about Dami Ayoola, but I will try to check in on that. I know the rumor mill is circulating that Ayoola will return. If he does, that would certainly be a big boost to the Illinois running game. Maybe not so much in the 2014 season, but perhaps more so in the 2015 and 2016 seasons if he still has eligibility for the 2016 season. All of that, obviously, is dependent upon him returning to the team.

Finding help along the defensive line, preferrably at a defensive tackle spot, and in the secondary, preferrably at a safety position, are the two main options Illinois wants to corner in the recruiting game.

Daniel Cage from Cincinnati Winton Woods High School is a possibility at defensive tackle. I wouldn't be surprised either if Illinois adds another offensive lineman in this class. Nick Allegretti and Peter Cvijanovic are the only lineman in the group. Allegretti is projected as a center while Cvijanovic will likely grow into a role at either left or right tackle. Finding someone at an interior spot could prove beneficial.

JB Butler is a guard from Joliet Catholic who the Illinois have been interested in for some time, but have not offered a scholarship yet. He received one from Northern Illinois on Thursday, his first FBS offer, so more might be on the way. Martesse Patterson from Columbus, Ohio, is another guard prospect the Illini have courted for some time, too.

The line I've been hearing all along is that Illinois will most likely only take 3-4 more players in the Class of 2014 based on the current scholarship situation. That can obviously change in the coming months if roster attrition does take place.

Anonymous User — 01:19 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Are we going to get any D-Line help?  We signed one JC d-line guy last year and he didn't play much. We need a lot of GOOD help.

Matt Daniels (moderator) — 01:24 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Hey anonymous,

Five or six quality defensive linemen would be a boost. But that won't happen. Illinois has one commit along the defensive lineman so far, and that is Tito Odenigbo from Centerville (Ohio) High School. He had a steady senior season at Centerville, and could possibly transform himself into a defensive tackle. That's the biggest area of need right now for Illinois. He was a natural defensive end in high school, but has the capabilities to add more weight without losing some of the speed he showed at defensive end.

Like I mentioned earlier, Daniel Cage is a possibility, along with several from the junior college ranks. Abe Cajuste was the JC signee last year along the defensive line, and that did not work out well for Illinois. He recorded one tackle and didn't play in the final six games of the season this year. It's doubtful he'll get much playing time next year either, so that signing could be characterized as a bust.

The search for the ever-elusive defensive tackle at Illinois continues, but that's the trend at most schools, too. The big run-stuffers are a must in having a quality defense, and that's what all programs are searching for pretty much every year.

NOT @WernerESPNCU — 01:25 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Your ideal additional three people to join DJ Williams in 2015 recruiting class for men's basketball at Illinois? Followed by your fourth & fifth guys should one of your top three go elsewhere.

Thank you!

Matt Daniels (moderator) — 01:31 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Hey NOT@WernerESPNCU,

Interesting name there. Say hello to Jeremy for me if you see him. Good guy and good reporter.

Interesting question, too. One that is open to all sorts of possibilities. John Groce wants quality point guards, and the best one in the state in the Class of 2015 is Jalen Brunson from Stevenson. The left-hander not only gets his teammates involved in the game, but he is capable of producing points in bunches. So there's one.

A big, bruising post presence is another must. Either Diamond Stone out of Milwaukee or Elijah Thomas from Lancaster, Texas, are ideal candidates to fill those slots. Both are five-star recruits and have most of the country's top programs chasing them. So either Stone or Thomas counts as the second choice.

After that I'd go with Charles Matthews from Chicago St. Rita. He's a combo guard who does a lot of everything really well. Of course, like Stone and Thomas, he is a five-star recruit highly coveted by other major programs in the country.

For the fourth and fifth spots, need a shooter, so either Aaron Jordan from Plainfield East or Jalen Coleman from La Lumiere School in LaPorte, Ind. And then maybe one of Coleman's teammates at La Lumiere, wing Joseph Toye, formerly of Chicago Whitney Young.

This, of course, is all hypothetical, so by no means do I anticipate Illinois getting all of the above-mentioned prospects. But landing one or two would provide a major boost for Illinois.

Matt Daniels (moderator) — 01:43 PM on Fri, 12/13/2013

Looks like that's all the questions we have for this week. Thanks for the interest. We'll be back at the same time, same place next week for another chat.

Stay safe driving this weekend around East Central Illinois. Supposed to be getting some nasty weather coming in later today.

Have a good weekend everyone!