April 24 Bob Asmussen chat

April 24 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, April 24, 2017 - 10:00am

Which former Illini will be the first player selected in the NFL draft? Is the early signing date a good thing for Illinois football? What nonconference team on the Illinois schedule is the most challenging?

For the answer to these questions, or anything else on your mind, check in with our longtime college football writer.

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Hope everyone had a great weekend. I helped cover the Illinois Marathon and also went to my daughter's band concert.Then, of course, everyone in my house got sick. I am waiting for my turn.

Illinois picked up a second commitment from a Danville offensive lineman, Julian Pearl. Sounds like he has a chance to be a force down the road. Smart move by the Illinois coaches to pick up a local guy.

Enough stalling, time to get to your questions. As always, thanks for your participation.

Illini Football Fan wrote on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

Bob -

Which carries more truth: Low # of recruits due to Lovie being extremely selective in finding/securing recruits versus inability to entice recruits/potential recruits to come to Illinois ????

What's your intuitive feeling about having just 2 recruits-to-date?  How confident are in Lovie getting big-time commits toward next year and comfortably fill the entire class?

Thank you :-)

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am
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Illini FootballFan,

Great question. At this point, Lovie Smith and his staff are being selective because they don't have a huge number of openings. Every position has been given a count and the staff will do what it can to fill those spots with the best players available. I think they hit a home run with Coran Taylor. I think once the rest of college football sees him this season, they will try to recruit him. Illinois got ahead on him and that will pay off in the future.

I don't think having two recruits now is a problem. If Illinois has two in September, then it will be a problem. But I think the numbers will reach double figures later in the summer. Lovie Smith and his staff will keep scholarships open for the final handful of guys they want to pursue.

I was unsure at first if Lovie Smith would be able to make the transition to the college game. It had been a long time. But it is clear to me that he has a plan and is attempting to execute that plan. I think he has made smart choices in terms of the areas he wants to recruit, going to Florida, California and Georgia as well as St. Louis.

There were some recruiting misses in the first year, but that figures to happen less and less as time goes on.

The commitment Illinois has made to Smith and his staff helps the situation. Rival coaches can't poitn at Smith and tell recruits he is in trouble like they did with Ron Zook and Tim Beckman. He is here for a long time and that really works to his advantage in recruiting.

I think Illlinois will put together a quality class in time for the dual signing days.

Illini Football Fan wrote on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

Bob -

I was looking at a 2016 article that listed college football players with international backgrounds. Are there any possible players that Lovie and staff may look at for the next few years?

Article:http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2526852-2016-college-football-recruits-with-international-backgrounds

Thanks!

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am
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Illini Football Fan,

Thanks for sending that along. That will be good reading after the chat.

I have never asked Lovie Smith or his staff about players with international backgrounds, but I will now.

Smith and his coaches, like all other staffs, will go anywhere to find a player and use any advantage they can. If they thought there was an offensive tackle on Mars who could help, they would try to figure out a way to get there.

To me, what separates the good staffs from the great ones is the willingness to do the work. Go the extra mile. You never know what will impress a recruit or his family. Simple things can sometimes make all the difference.

I do know that the University of Illinois is an international brand. That has to be a good thing for the football program and all of the other teams.

Thanks again for the link.

Anonymous User wrote on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

I read recently that the Tuscola FB coach inferred that he thought his player would be better off going to OSU because their immediate future would be better. He also said he was troubled by the fact there ws so little talent in Champaign. What do you think of this? He sure wasn't very supportive of the state university literally in his own backyard was he? Is this the age old question of do you go help build a winner or go someplace that is winning and going to a bowl every year? Do you opt for what could be early playing time or go someplace and sit for a year or two? Go someplace 800 miles away, or go someplace close where your friends and family can come to alot of your games? I know OSU was the first offer and all, but how can we not reel in someone in our own backyard?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am
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Anon,

Hunter Woodard's family was very supportive of Lovie Smith and made it clear the decision was not a knock on the Illinois program. It was more a case of Oklahoma State being a better fit for him. From what I hear, Hunter Woodard is an outdoors guy. I also think there is an academic component to the choice. Sounds like Oklahoma State fits his classroom goals.

I think if Illinois was coming off a 9-3 season, it would have been more difficult for Woodard to pick Oklahoma State. But maybe that wouldn't have mattered.

Every recruit has different reasons for picking a school. Some want to play for a winner and some want to help build a winner. There is no right or wrong answer. It is a personal choice. But during my time doing this, I have rarely run into a player who worried about not being able to excel at whatever school he picked. If you are good enough to play in the Big Ten, you usually have the confidence to expect to start early in your career.

I will root for Hunter Woodard because I like to see the area players do well in their careers. It would have been fun to cover him at Illinois, but it wasn't my call.

I'm thinking no recruit ever picked a school because a reporter asked him to.

Anonymous User wrote on April 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

Seems like most of the top FB prospects in the state of Illinois for 2018 are already committed. I really felt after last year's class we would really be able to make inroads on the class of 2018. Do you think NU saw this and really went out to stop our momentum? Do you think Lovie and his staff look at this class as not that good and are going to concentrate elsewhere? Do you think they are really going hard to get commits out of St Louis? What do you hear on the recruitment of two ex-Chicago players Houston Griffith and Verdis Brown who moved to Florida? I know Florida will always be in play, but do you really think we can get players out of places like Forida, Georgia, and Texas on a consistent basis?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Anon II,

A couple things come into play here. First, while Lovie Smith has been on the job a year now, some of the kids in Illinois that are going elsewhere have been recruited for a longer period of  time. The Illinois staff is still playing catchup. The first class where it will be on equal footing is 2019.

It would have helped if Smith had a winning season, or close, his first year. Not all of the recruits are convinced that Illinois can win in the near future. That is something the team can fix on the field starting in early September. Results will play a factor in recruiting.

I don't think Pat Fitzgerald and his staff aimed to hurt Illinois recruiting. But if that was a byproduct of their own recruiting, I think they would be good with that.

St. Louis is a high priority area for the staff, partly because there is a lot of talent. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Houston Griffith has visited with Lovie Smith and his staff. Of course, he knows the place well because of his dad Howard. I think Howard wants his son to make his own decision. Would he be happy if Houston came to Illinois? Of course.

I do think Illinois can do a good job recruiting in Florida. it helps with the IMG players to have Donnie Abraham on the staff, He worked there recently and knows the players well. He will be an asset in the rest of Florida as well.

Traditionally, Florida has been good for Illinois recruiting for all of the staffs. The school needs to keep going there. Having Corey Liuget and other great Florida players excel in C-U helps.

 

Illini Football fan wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

Bob -
Just curious, if you were in charge of renovating the south end of Memorial Stadium and other mentioned before items, what would you design? I know various concepts were noted in previous articles. Bob, you're now the architect of this project to renovate/expand MS. What would you do/design? Thanks!

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Illini Football Fan,

First, I would thank Jim Delany for all the extra money.

To me, the most important part of the project is enhancing the experience for the players. So, as much as I want to take care of the fans, my biggest concern would be player convenience. Keep everything close so they don't have to walk a long way to get their work done. And I would make sure they have every technology advantage possible. The school is known for innovation. Take advanage of that to help the players both on and off the field.

And I really don't want to see Memorial Stadium turn into Soldier Field South. Make sure the outside look is not altereed. I have confidence that the architects will keep the place as is and that we won't be able to see many of the changes. Dignified is good. Ugly is bad.

 

Illini Football fan wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

Bob -
What's in your crystal ball of which rounds will each former Illini be drafted this year? And who will not be drafted but get free agent contracts? Which former Illini improved his stock most for this upcoming draft?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Illini Football Fan,

I think Dawuane Smoot will go in the third round and Carroll Phillips in the fourth. Chunky Clements and Hardy Nickerson will go in the later rounds. I think Wes Lunt will get a chance as a free agent.

It is nice to have some players to write about during the draft. Remember, it wasn't long ago that Illinois was shut out.

Nick Dalton wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

Seems like Illini FB is in a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" situation as far as recruiting goes right now. They are in on some big 2018 recruits, but a lot of these players say they want to win. They love everything about Lovie and the staff, but want to see wins next year. Problem is Illinois probably isn't going to win many games until they start getting these better players. I fear Lovie getting frustrated with the college game/recruiting. Any knowledge on if he's truly committed to a 5-6 year rebuild process?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Nick,

Last question first: I think he realizes this is not a quick fix and has made a commitment to be here for the length of his contract. Is he frustrated at times? Probably. But he keeps it to himself, which is a good thing.

Ron Turner and Ron Zook turned the program in part by finding recruits who were not as highly regarded and helping them become stars. Vontae Davis comes to mind. So does David Diehl. And J Leman wasn't highly recruited despite an awesome peformance in high school.

Lovie Smith has more time than Turner and Zook, who had to win by year four or they would have been in trouble.

To me, the key is the assessment skills of Smith and his staff. If they find the right guys who fit their system, they will have a chance to win.

The 2017 schedule doesn't help Smith, but the 2018 schedule is set up for a postseason bid.

 

 

Coach Carmody wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

Hey Bob,

Who are the most likely prospects to round out this years basketball class? Also who do you see as the next football commit?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Coach Carmody,

I am going out on a limb and guessing Mark Smith comes to Illinois. Scott Richey says the decision cound come at any second. Stay tuned to HQ.

On football, I'm not going to give you a name, but a position: tight end. Illinois is after a lot of them and many of the good ones have picked other schools. It's like the NFL draft when there is a run on players, teams start to change their picks. My guess is Illinois will have at least one tight end commitment in the next month or so. No pressure.

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 24, 2017 at 11:04 am
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I am going to end the chat for  today. Thanks for all of your great questions. I will be back next Monday at the same time. If you have anything between now and then, email me at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

Have a great week and enjoy the NFL draft.