Recruiting blogger and football beat writer Matt Daniels has been camped out at Illinois practice all week. Ask him questions of any kind at any time and he'll do his best to respond during Friday's 1:30 p.m. chat.
Greetings everyone on a warm and sunny afternoon from Champaign. Matt Daniels here with you until around 2 p.m. Sorry for the late start today. Finishing up notes from this morning's Illinois football practice and just had a delicious lunch at the Esquire.
Enough about me. Let's get started with the questions.
who is the starting qb at the end of the season ?
o'toole seems to have to passing that fits the new offense better if can limit his turnovers
who was the coach mentioned in the opening of Loren's story on Sunday
Good question. I don't think it's going to be Reilly O'Toole. At least not right now.
If anyone could supplant Nathan Scheelhaase as Tim Beckman's starting quarterback, the clamoring from the fans would most likely center on Aaron Bailey. The freshman from Bolingbrook has had an impressive first week of practice to begin his college career.
Some might say he reminds people of a young Juice Williams. We'll see if that plays out during the rest of his time at Illinois. O'Toole does have a strong arm and should enter the season as Scheelhaase's backup based on his experience, but look for Bailey to push both O'Toole and Scheelhaase throughout the year.
If groce doesn't get Alexander black or the guard who just decommitted from Louisville where does he go ?
Juco ? Best player available ? Hold it until 2015
The focus right now, and it has been this way for John Groce's staff, is Cliff Alexander and Leron Black. Black is set to visit Illinois at the end of August along with visits to Baylor (where he originally committed) on Sept. 7 and Indiana the week after.
The staff is also high on Quentin Snider, the Louisville native who decommitted last week from his hometown Cardinals.
Asked our superb beat writer Marcus Jackson about what direction Illinois would go if they don't land any of the three for the Class of 2014. He said they'd likely re-evaluate the situation and go after the best available player.
Hope that helps.
Is Illinois now the favorite to land Leron Black? Is Indiana really a factor in that recruitment? Always good to see a player decomit from Indiana like Blackomon yesterday! Could not have happened to a more likeable head coach.
Twitter and recruiting services are abuzz this week that Illinois is the favorite to land Leron Black. So it's a trendy pick right now to think the power forward from Memphis, Tenn., might wind up at Illinois. Getting him on campus for a visit is always a good sign.
You'd have to like Illinois' chances a bit better than Indiana based on the amount of attention Illinois coach John Groce and his staff have given Black.
Would be interesting to see if James Blackmon, the 2014 prospect you're referring to, winds up at Louisville. He's really good friends with JaQuan Lyle, and the two have discussed the possibility of playing together in the past.
The Illini seemed to be very disorganized as a team last year, and everyone pulling in different directions rather than as a team. Do you see a diffference this year with Cubit in charge of the offense? Can it, will it, make that much of a difference towards a big improvement? What about defensively? Heard Loren say that the Illinois has lost Chicago as a prime recruiting ground. What is your take on this? I know for sure it gets real tiring watching other schools come to Illinois and be successful in taking players from what in the past few years have been good years for talent in Illinois. Imagine if we could have gotten 5 of the top 10 players instead of 2 or 3 of the top players in Illinois in say the last 5 years. Something tells me our roster as a whole would be more talented with different results on Saturdays in the fall
Togetherness and team bonding are two talking points Illinois players bring up, almost without being asked. The feel I get is that some players last year were more focused on the NFL and their individual goals and didn't really buy into Tim Beckman's system in Beckman's first season.
Bill Cubit has won over the players with his knowledge and his direct coaching style, but also his laid-back manner. That doesn't mean Cubit doesn't want to win or won't get after players if they're making mistakes, but his personality draws people towards him.
Cubit had a pass-happy offense at Western Michigan and you'd expect the same thing at Illinois, although Cubit does like the options Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson give him out of the backfield, too.
On defense, the Illinois linebackers are, hands down, the most talented and experienced group on that side of the ball. Jonathan Brown and Mason Monheim are the leaders of that group, and it will be interesting to see how B.J. Bello adapts at the STAR spot with Eric Finney's injury likely knocking him out the month of August.
Chicago and its suburbs are always difficult recruiting grounds for Illinois. Coaches from across the Big Ten and across the country are always coming into that territory trying to poach players. Beckman has tried to address this by having each of his assistant coaches have a different recruiting area either in the city or suburbs. But you're right. Winning is the best cure-all when it comes to recruiting. Right now, Illinois coaches are trying to sell players on what the program can become under them, not what they've actually done.
Going to wrap up this chat. Sorry for it being so short, but need to upload some videos from practice this morning. Jim Delany, Big Ten commissioner, coming into Champaign-Urbana tomorrow to meet with Tim Beckman and his team. Media Day is on Sunday, along with Fan Appreciation Day, before the players bus up to Rantoul.
First practice at Rantoul is at 9 a.m. on Monday. Make sure to stop by and say hello if you're up there. And swing by T&T Tavern in Rantoul at 5 p.m. on Monday for The News-Gazette Sports Page radio show. Myself, Marcus Jackson, Jim Rossow and Loren Tate will be there. We'll have full coverage of Camp Rantoul as well in next week's News-Gazette.
Any other questions or anything else, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @mdaniels_ng.
Have a good weekend everyone!