Jan. 31 UI football/recruiting chat

Jan. 31 UI football/recruiting chat

Friday, January 31, 2014 - 1:00pm

Signing Day is less than a week away for Tim Beckman. Who's coming to Illinois? Who isn't? Who does beat writer Matt Daniels like in Sunday's Super Bowl? Fire away at Daniels with questions in his weekly give-and-take. Feel free to submit them in advance.

Matt Daniels wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm
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Good afternoon everyone. Matt Daniels here with another weekly chat to talk Illinois football and recruiting. Signing day is five days away for Tim Beckman, who will sign his third class at Illinois. Not a real great class on paper, but not a real bad one either. It won't rank very high when it comes to other Big Ten classes because the commits didn't have the best offer lists and the class is so small.

Sorry for the late start. Caught up with Marcus Jackson, our superb Illinois men's basketball beat writer, over lunch in snowy downtown Champaign today.

Enough lunch discussion. Let's get started with the questions.

rickyb wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Hey Matt thanks for the chats my question is how does this losing streak play into our chances of landing the Charles mathews and Carlton Braggs of the world also when is enough enough it's time to put latulip in the game and let him unleash WE NEED SCORERS bad rice can't do it all alone.. my other question is what should we expect from this illinois football group seems like we got a lot of great talent but do you think with all the new faces they will be able to put it together this year

Matt Daniels wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm
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Hey rickyb,

The losing streak for Illinois, currently at six games and counting with a talented Iowa team coming to State Farm Center on Saturday night, certainly doesn't help matters for recruiting purposes. It's much easier to sell a recruit when the program is winning and winning consistently.

That said, it doesn't mean Illinois is out of the running by any means for some of the blue-chippers Illinois is pursuing. John Groce has always tried to sell a vision to potential recruits when it comes to his first few recruiting classes at Illinois, and that's what he'll have to continue to do, even with the current woes.

Plus, it's a good pitch to use for prospects in the Class of 2015 and 2016 to tell them, 'Hey, come here and help get this thing turned around.' And it could provide the recruits a better chance to play early, if they're talented enough to do so.

Not too sure if you'll see more Mike LaTulip. He is a good shooter, but is a liability on defense and can't create much off the dribble. At least not at this point in his career.

I'm going out on a limb (probably a wobbly one) and predicting Illinois will go 6-6 in 2014 on the football field. The schedule is favorable for Beckman's third team, plus the offense is in good hands with Bill Cubit as its coordinator. Add in the arm of Wes Lunt, and he has a chance to make some unknown wide receivers into household names next fall. But then, you look at the defense and it doesn't exactly fill you with supreme confidence that it will improve vastly next season.

Love the Illini wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm

With a favorable schedule next year Illini will look to make a significant improvement record wise. With that in mind which of the incoming recruits do you think have a chance to contribute right away as freshmen?

Matt Daniels wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm
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Hey Love the Illini,

Illinois will most likely have to make a significant improvement record-wise next year in order for Beckman to see a fourth season at Illinois. At least make it to a bowl game, which seems like a possibility given the favorable schedule you mention.

The last five Illinois coaches all made it to a bowl game by their third season. It took Mike White, Ron Turner and Ron Zook until their third seasons to do so, but White had a 7-4 team in his second season, so the seeds of progress were already getting planted. The last Illinois coach to not make it to a bowl game by the time their third season ended? Gary Moeller in 1979, and he didn't get a fourth season since he was fired.

Wide receiver is the deepest position group among the recruits in this class. Speaking strictly of the freshmen since this class has six junior college players, I'd say Mike Dudek from Neuqua Valley and Malik Turner from Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin have the best chance of seeing the field early. It's a position that doesn't have much proven depth right now for Illinois, and the fact that both had such standout senior seasons lends one to think they could possibly make a contribution as true freshmen.

Anonymous User wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Last year the Illini seemed to have a lot of defections in the last few weeks of recruiting. Does the coaching staff being there a 2nd year help that not to happen this year? Also seems like with all the talent coming out of the East St Louis program we can't seem to get any of it. Any chance Watson changes his mind or how about Breckner next year? How do we stand with Megginson and Oseland fo next year? Sure could use those horses in Illini uniforms. What do you think if we win six games in 2014 and show improvement, think we  can start attracting big in-state talent?

Matt Daniels wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm
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Hey anonymous,

Illinois did have a handful of players decommit in the Class of 2013. Off the top of my head and without going back to verify, the number seemed around seven or eight.

The Illinois coaches feel they did a solid job of identifying replacements for players like Joshua Jones, Evan Panfil and others who backed off on their commitments. Jaylen Dunlap was a late addition to the Class of 2013 and most likely would not have landed at Illinois if some of the decommits stayed true to their initial word.

East St. Louis has produced plenty of talent throughout the years, which is where Terry Hawthorne came from. The Flyers have arguably the top in-state prospect in the Class of 2015 in defensive lineman Terry Beckner, who is supposed to be on campus this weekend for the junior day festivities Illinois will hold.

Does't look too good on linebacker Kyron Watson from East St. Louis possibly changing his mind away from Kansas, although you're never quite sure when rumors start to float about a prospect's commitment.

Illinois is in good position with Gabe Megginson from Jacksonville and Quinn Oseland from Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, two offensive linemen in the Class of 2015. Megginson was at Illinois for the Michigan State game in late October and Oseland has visited the campus several times before. Wes Lunt was talking to Megginson and other recruits when Megginson was in town, so the Springfield-area products could start to form a relationship.

Winning always helps in attracting big in-state talent. That's the best cure all when it comes to the recruiting business.

a berger wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Do you have a sense of who Beckman's first recruit(s) for 2015 are going to be, and when?  Also, why did Beckman schedule Junior Day on the Superbowl Weekend?  Seems like a poor weekend to have it.

Matt Daniels wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm
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Hey a berger,

Illinois has recruited players in the Class of 2015 like DeKalb running back Dre Brown, New Lenox Providence Catholic wide receiver Miles Boykin and Lemont wideout Flynn Nagel rather hard these past few months.

One in-state player in the Class of 2015 that Illinois felt confident about was Benet quarterback Jack Beneventi, but the pocket passer picked Iowa ahead of Illinois in early December. That was a bit of a surprise.

Expect the first commit for Illinois in the Class of 2015 to arrive in the next six weeks or so based on recent history and how early the recruiting process gets going. Tito Odenigbo and Nick Allegretti were the first two recruits in the Class of 2014 to commit, and they both did so on March 11. Dillan Cazley was the first one in the Class of 2013 and he did so the first week in February.

Illinois coaches, like every other college football program in the country, is working on finalizing the Class of 2014 in the next five days and then keeping another eye glued to the developments with the Class of 2015.

Illinois had a junior day two weekends ago. They like to schedule them when Illinois has a home basketball game on the weekend, which was the case two weeks ago. Much of the activities are wrapped up by Sunday afternoon, with a large majority of the day planned around that Saturday. So recruits and their families should still have plenty of time to head home and be in front of their TVs to watch the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl.

Matt Daniels wrote on January 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm
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Going to wrap up the chat for this week. Need to get some work done for the papers this weekend as well as some signing day coverage we'll have in next Wednesday's News-Gazette.

As always, thanks for the questions and for taking part. Anything else you need, feel free to email me at mdaniels@news-gazette.com or ask away on Twitter (@mdaniels_NG).

Have a good weekend everyone!