College football beat writer and recruiting blogger Matt Daniels chats at 1 p.m. Friday. Submit them in advance to better your chance of a response.
Greetings eveyrone on a warm Friday afternoon from Champaign-Urbana. Matt Daniels here with you this afternoon for another Illinois football and recruiting chat.
The Illinois football team will have plenty of assistant coaches out on the road tonight and tomorrow as they take advantage of the second bye week of the season. Illinois picked up two commits this week in the Class of 2014 in tight end Jordan Frazier and offensive tackle Peter Cvijanovic, bringing the total number of commits to 14.
And Illinois basketball continues its preparations for its season opener in less than a month. John Groce's team held its media day festivities on Wednesday.
Let's get going with some questions. Feel free to submit them at any point.
I know groce says scholarship numbers work itself out. How will it work in November with us signing an extra player and potentially two extra players? Will we start to see earlier commits now groce has been in job for a while
Good question. Right now Illinois will have 14 players on scholarship for the 2014-15 season when Michael Finke, Leron Black and Quentin Snider sign their letters of intent in about a month. I'd imagine a scenario where, for a season perhaps, a player on the roster will pay their own way. Not sure who that player may be, but that's the likely scenario.
John Groce is right. Scholarship numbers do have a way of working themselvs out. I know it's a broken record, but it's true. Some difficult conversations may have to happen in order for that to transpire, but Black and Snider aren't coming to Illinois if Illinois still had the scholarship situation it had last year at this point with Mike Shaw, Devin Langford and Myke Henry, who all transferred after last season.
A more pressing matter for the Illinois basketball team right now than its scholarship numbers is this year's team. With Ahmad Starks' waiver getting denied, Illinois will only have 10 players available on scholarship, which comes to 11 when you add walk-on Mike LaTulip.
Early commits are becoming more common in basketball, but are definitely the rage in football. Then again, some of the elite players like to drag the process out much longer, sometimes waiting until the last possible day to sign. That wasn't the case with all three commits Illinois has in the Class of 2014, with Finke being committed for almost 10 months, and Black and Snider deciding more than a month ago. The longer Groce is at Illinois, which will help his recruiting by getting out and developing relationships with players at an even earlier age, could result in more high school juniors committing to Illinois before they start their senior year of high school, but we'll have to wait and see.
Hey Matt, Whats the deal with Caleb Day? Highly rated recruit who seems to be behind 3 true freshman at CB.. Is Caleb better suited at safety or WR? What is the scouting report on Illini commit Julian Hylton from Lincoln Way, he is having a huge year on offense.. Is he a "sleeper" recruit.
Caleb Day has only played in one of the five games this year for Illinois, making a brief appearance against Cincinnati. I don't believe it's injuries with him, but I'll try to get an answer next week leading up to the Wisconsin game. He was a very good athlete in high school and was an all-purpose threat on offense, both running the ball and catching the ball. Sometimes it's hard to get a good read on how good a defensive back is during the fall, which is why college coaches rely heavily on what they see during summer camps and in their own evaluations of workouts.
Julian Hylton is a recruit the Illinois coaches are hopeful is a steal. The only question regarding him is would he be better suited at running back than at cornerback in college. Illinois projects him as a cornerback, but he is having a superb senior year running the ball for Lincoln-Way North. He's a good athlete that just needs to find a position in college, it seems. Running back is a bit of a concern for Illinois in a few years after Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson leave, with Devin Church, LaKeith Walls and Kendrick Foster all unproven at the college level.
With the monster numbers some of our 2014 football recruits are putting up, how can they be classified as just three stars. Examples are Hylton, Dudek, & Turner. Hylton's & Dudek's numbers, in particular, are off the charts.
Mike Dudek and Malik Turner, two senior wide receivers, are having standout falls catching the ball. Turner was a bit of an unknown coming into his senior season at Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin because he has dealt with injuries most of his varsity career. Fully healthy, he is showing some schools may have overlooked him.
Dudek didn't have any big offers before Illinois came in the picture. He had interest from some other BCS programs, but they were waiting on a scholarship offer and wanted to see what he would have done this past summer at their camps. This is a case where Illinois extends an early offer to a recruit and it seems to work in Illinois' favor. It's not a stretch to say that Turner and Dudek are the top wide receivers in the state at this point in the high school season, with Hylton running rampant against opposing defenses every week, too.
A lot of the star system is awarded based on how recruits perform at certain camp events sponsored by recruiting services. With the seasons all three are having, it goes to show that the number of stars (and again, I don't know a different way to evaluate players) by a player's name isn't the best way to gauge their production.
Hey Matt --
Great work as always on your recent reporting/chats.
Wanted to know if you think the Ahmad Starks situation has any impact on Quentin Snider's commitement? Not just in terms of available scholarships, but competition at the PG position? Think Snider might change his mind again knowing that Starks, Tate, Abrams all will be around in his first year?
To me, it doesn't seem like a big deal. You'd think that Snider would sit behind Starks and Abrams for a year and then step into a major role as a soph. But I was curious to get your opinion.
I don't think what transpired with Ahmad Starks will have any bearing on Quentin Snider coming to Illinois. If I'm wrong, I like my crow mildy seasoned.
Obviously it was a bit of a surprise to everyone involved, John Groce included, that Starks' waiver to play immediately this season wasn't granted by the NCAA. With the current roster, Snider might not have the chance to come in and start right away as a freshman, but that was probably the case even before Starks' waiver was denied since Tracy Abrams will be a senior for the 2014-15 season.
Snider is a good talent who may well crack the starting lineup his freshman season. There's plenty of basketball to be played before that decision is made. All signs seem to point that Snider, like you mention, is primed for a more prominent role his sophomore season. Leron Black and Snider are top-50 recruits in the Class of 2014, but not exactly players you think of as a one-and-done type player. At least not at this point in their basketball careers.
Was it surprising that Groce got commitments from two of the highly touted players in 2014, considering he's just in his second year. It seems to me that 2015 would be when we start getting some of the top players. At least that's what I think I heard someone say.
John Groce has built some recruiting momentum in his name with Leron Black and Quentin Snider coming to Illinois. Especially since both Class of 2014 players initially committed to different schools. What it signifies is Groce's ability to relate and build relationships quickly with not only the players, but people close to those players, be it coaches, family members or other mentors. That ability goes a long way in recruiting, as does on the court success like Illinois had last year.
The Class of 2015 is still an important class for Illinois and Groce, and it's a good indication if Illinois can continue to get some elite-level talents that fit the mold of what Groce wants on his roster. By going down to Memphis and Louisville, Groce showed he wasn't shy about stepping outside of normal recruiting territories for Illinois. But the Class of 2015 isn't as pressing a concern as it was, say, at this point last year when the roster overhaul hadn't begun yet.
If Illinois can land a player like Charles Matthews, Carlton Bragg, Jalen Brunson, Aaron Jordan or other high-caliber players Illinois is recruiting, it could bode well for Groce's recruiting reputation in the years ahead.
Any news on the recruitment of the some of the best uncommitted in-state Defensive players?? Tori Millender(LB, Belleville West), Vontae Diggs(OLB, Downers Grove-North) and Chris Slayton (DE, Crete-Monee) are 3 in my opinion. Millender has been a tackle-machine down in the SWC for years and West is having a great season. I've heard that Diggs recently de-committed from Toledo and is looking elsewhere. Any chance the Illini can offer these two? Slayton has an offer but any trips to Champaign scheduled soon? Illini need some serious help on Defense and these are in-state guys we need to keep here...Thanks
Illinois has some interest in all three, and all three players you mention have some interest in Illinois. Of the three, Slayton has the most impressive offer list, with most of the Big Ten extending offers to the Crete-Monee defensive end. A pass rush is certainly lacking for Illinois this year, and with only one defensive lineman in the mix so far for Illinois, finding a player at this spot is a priority for Illinois.
Millender and Diggs are both good linebackers, with myriad interest from Big Ten schools, but both seem like they'll wind up at a MAC school. Diggs did de-commit from Toledo a few months ago, so it looks like he might be waiting for a bigger school to come along.
Defense is a glaring issue for Illinois right now, but with only a few scholarships left to hand out in the Class of 2014, chances are all three players mentioned above won't wind up at Illinois. One possibly could, but with two linebackers already in the mix for Illinois and decent depth at that position, Illinois will likely go after someone on the defensive line first.
Has enough been done to ensure Beckman's return next year even if we were not to win another game or do we need to at least beat Purdue or does Beckman need more than 4 total wins?
Hey Skoal Man,
Unless Illinois loses 50-0 in every game the rest of the season, it seems like a strong possibility Tim Beckman would return for this third season. So far, at 3-2, he has earned the right to. He made necessary changes in the offseason on his coaching staff, which paid dividends during nonconference play on the offensive side of the ball.
And Illinois was competitive against a good Washington team that is only a few plays away from being undefeated going into Saturday's showdown with Oregon. Nebraska looked crisp against Illinois. More teams likely will this fall based on how porous the Illinois defense has played at times against good competition. The schedule doesn't do an inexperienced team any favors the next two weeks, but Illinois is still in position at this moment to earn a bowl berth.
The vibe around the entire program feels different than it did a year ago, and some of the credit has to go to Beckman. He still has his critics, and will have them, especially if the losses start to pile up, but at this moment, it's a safe bet to assume he'll be Illinois' coach for the 2014 season.
Going to wrap up this week's chat. Thanks for all the questions. Enjoy the last bye weekend before Illinois football ends the year with seven straight games.
Any other questions you may have for me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @mdaniels_NG.
Have a good weekend everyone!