April 11 spring game chat

April 11 spring game chat

Friday, April 11, 2014 - 1:00pm

The spring game is roughly 24 hours away. Who better to ask what's going on with the Illinois football program than our beat writer Matt Daniels? Pepper him with questions ahead of time or during his hour-long chat.

Matt Daniels wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

Afternoon everyone. The Illinois football spring game is 25 hours away. In roughly 24 hours from now, be sure to check back here on HQ as we'll get our live report from Saturday's spring game rolling around that time.

Plenty of football to talk about (who's the starting QB? who's hurt? what's the format of the spring game?) if you'd like. Along with the always fun situation of transfers this time of year when it relates to college basketball.

It appears the in-home visit Illinois was supposed to have this morning with Maurice Watson Jr., the point guard from Boston University, was canceled, according to Derek Piper from 247sports. We'll have to wait and see how that affects, if it does, the pursuit of Watson.

Enough of my ramblings. For now. Let's get started with the questions.

Rich Patton wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Does the Illini have a scholarship available for Maurice Watson?  I thought that all of the scholarships were filled until 2015.  Will someone have to transfer?

busdriver 943 wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Matt, If Maurice Watson decides to come to Illinois do we have room for him, are we not at the 13 limit now.....or is some one planning on transferring?

Nick Bauer wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

What is illinois chances of getting roddy peters or Maurice Watson? And is there a chance that peters could be banned from going to a big ten school like Illinois?

rickyb wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Hey Matt thanks for the chat iv been reading that Illinois is reaching out to two young transfers in roddy Peters and Maurice Watson my question is which point guard would u rather have if u choose between the two how big would it be to get both? Do we have a realistic chance at getting peters most kids don't transfer to teams within their conference

larry w harnly wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

if john groce is trying to add a point guard for next season, doesn't that mean one of the 13 on scholarship will have to depart?  do you think any of them WANT to leave?

Matt Daniels wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

Getting all these questions out of the way now so I don't sound like a broken record repeating myself.

Illinois is interested in Maurice Watson Jr., the point guard from Boston, along with Maryland guard Roddy Peters. Both have asked to transfer from the teams they played with last season and are looking at their options.

Illinois is reportedly one of the schools both players are interested in. Right now Illinois has all 13 scholarships filled for next season. The next two available scholarships aren't until the 2015-16 season.

Even if players transfer, like Ahmad Starks, Aaron Cosby and Darius Paul did last spring, they are still on scholarship for the upcoming season. So, in essence, what this means if Illinois takes in any transfers this offseason, is that it looks like a current player on the team would have to leave or transfer as well.

John Groce has given no indication that will happen so far. But, like we saw last year when Mike Shaw, Ibby Djimde, Devin Langford and Myke Henry all transferred, it has happened recently at Illinois.

We'll just have to wait and see how it plays. My best piece of advice? Relax and let the process play out.

Anonymous User wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm



Which of the listed players has a scholarship offer and which players do not have a scholarship offer from Illinois?

Maurice Watson, Roddy Peters, Luwane Pipkins, Glynn Watson, Hyron Edwards, Nick Noskowiak, Jimmy Whitt



Matt Daniels wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

Hey anonymous,

To the best of my knowledge, Hyron Edwards and Nick Noskowiak have scholarship offers from Illinois.

Noskowiak recently de-committed from Marquette once Buzz Williams left, and John Groce didn't waste much time in offering the point guard from Sun Prairie (Wis.) High School.

The other high school players that you mention in Pipkins, Whitt and Watson all have interest from Illinois, but no offers at this point.

As far as Watson and Peters, I don't believe they have offers at the moment, but are receiving interest from Illinois, along with other schools. The transfer recruiting process is much quicker and evolves much faster than it does at the high school level.


DocDust94 wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Do you know if the players get outside help on techniques during the off-season? Or is that against the rules? I have heard of quarterback camps. Do the linemen have special camps? Thanks!

Matt Daniels wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

Hey DocDust94,

Routinely most of the football players stay on campus during the summer to take part in summer school and also work out.

The players are the ones organizing most of the workouts as far as on the field stuff.

Going off the top of my head, the strength and conditioning workouts can be monitored by a staff member. I will sound more knowledgable about the matter by next week after I talk with football strength and conditioning coach Aaron Hillman.

There are quarterback camps in the summer (the Manning camp made news last summer for the whole Johnny Manziel saga). I'm not too sure about linemen camps, but will check into that.

Essentially, the coaches talk to the players once spring ball ends (Illinois is slated to have what they call exit meetings with the players next Thursday and Friday to go over summer items) to talk about the upcoming summer when the coaches can't have contact with them.

Karl Fink wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

What is the situtation with Wes Lunt's knee?  He injured it at Oklahoma State and missed some games.  I see him wearing a brace now.   If he starts, then the other quarterbacks have to be ready in case Lunt's knee gets reinjured.   More so than the normal situation, it seems that Illinois needs to have a "back-up" starter.   

Matt Daniels wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

Hey Karl,

Wes Lunt dislocated his left kneecap during the third game of Oklahoma State's season in 2012 against Louisana-Lafayette on Sept. 15. He didn't play again until Nov. 3 that season against Kansas State and suffered a concussion in that game.

Injuries marred his only season in Stillwater, and he still wears a brace on the knee he hurt at Oklahoma State. That's usually standard for players who have had knee injuries at one point or another in their career.

It appears Reilly O'Toole has edged ahead of Aaron Bailey for the backup job if Lunt is named the starter. Backup quarterbacks are always one snap away from having to be able to play, so I'd say this spring has served Lunt, O'Toole and Bailey well considering all have received reps with starters.

Tiredofdung wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Why should anyone care who is going to start?  Seriously I find it hard to justify the time watching on TV much less spending money to see Illini football. Is there any realistic reason to believe that the 14 squad would win any league games?

Matt Daniels wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

If you're an Illinois football fan I can see why you care who the starting quarterback at Illinois is. There's the simple answer I'll provide you.

I'd say there's realistic chance Illinois goes 3-5 in the Big Ten this season, if not better. The home schedule against Big Ten teams is favorable, opening up against Purdue on Oct. 4 (win).

The homecoming game against Minnesota on Oct. 25 is likely a toss-up at this point, and then back-to-back home games against Iowa (Nov. 15) and Penn State (Nov. 22) aren't opponents that should exactly strike fear into Illinois.

The road schedule is difficult, with games at Nebraska (Sept. 27), Wisconsin (Oct. 11) and Ohio State (Nov. 1).

All three are likely losses for the Illini, at least at this point. The regular season finale at Northwestern on Nov. 29 is one that folks could foresee a possible Illinois win.

A 2-6, 1-7 or 0-8 Big Ten mark doesn't seem likely with all that Illinois has coming back. Then again, Illinois has shown over the years to drastically play below expectations or exceed expectations.

Like our long-time beat writer Bob Asmussen always says, it's fun covering Illinois because you're never quite sure what you're going to get each season. 

Anonymous User wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Seems like the Illini are offering prospects not always offered by 'bigger' programs. My question is are they trying to get in early on some prospects, or are they trying to project these prospects down the road as getting better than they are now? Also how accurate do you think recruitng services like Rivals and Scout are in terms of their rating system, who the players are interested in, and the actual offers they have? Also let's say the Illini go 6-6,7-5 do you think the interest levels among prospects, particularly in state goes up significantly?

Matt Daniels wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

Hey anonymous,

Of the recruits Illinois is pursuing, Illinois is usually the first big-time offer for a particular recruit.

The Illinois coaches want to get in on a recruit early and show the faith they have in a player by extending an offer. 

Sometimes, too, the player may have interest from other Big Ten schools, but they haven't reached out with an offer yet. They may want a recruit to come to a summer camp, perform there and then an offer might follow.

Other times, other Big Ten schools feel the players Illinois is recruiting aren't up to their standards, so they won't offer.

Illinois is big on getting a player evaluated at an early age and then projecting what they can do down the road. The recruiting game has increased rapidly in recent years with players getting looked at almost as soon as they start high school. That comes from an increased summer camp presence, along with various camps put on by recruiting services as well.

I think Rivals and Scout are very accurate in the rating system (which many recruits don't care about) and a players' interest and offer lists.

If Illinois puts together a season that ends in a bowl game, it can only help Illinois from a recruiting perspective in-state.

The in-state recruits that are interested in Illinois see it as a program on the rise. If Illinois can follow through on that with a bowl game this season, it should help four and five-star in-state talents, players who right now aren't really considering Illinois too seriously, to maybe take an extra look at Illinois.

Matt Daniels wrote on April 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

Going to wrap up this week's chat. Any other questions you might have, feel free to email me at mdaniels@news-gazette.com or hit me up on Twitter (@mdaniels_NG).

We'll have a Live report from tomorrow's spring game on our website starting at 1 p.m., and plenty of preview coverage in Saturday's News-Gazette, along with stories up later tonight on HQ.

Have a good weekend!