How's Big Cliff enjoying C-U? Ask recruiting blogger Matt Daniels, who chats at 1 p.m. Fridays. (Hey, he also covers college football so quiz him about Tim Beckman's wrong-way bunch, too). Submit questions of any kind at any time.
Greetings everyone. Matt Daniels here for another Illinois football and Illinois recruiting chat. It's a picturesque late fall afternoon here in Champaign today. Illinois will take on Michigan State at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in the 103rd homecoming game at Illinois. The Spartans and their tough defense are the favorites as Illinois tries to snap its 16-game Big Ten losing game streak.
While football will have a handful of notable recruits on campus this weekend, the big recruit has to deal with John Groce's team, who looked effective at times in last night's 101-66 exhibition win against McKendree. Cliff Alexander, a consensus top five player in the Class of 2014, is set to arrive in Champaign later today for the start of his official visit.
Fire away with questions throughout the next hour and I'll get to them. Let's get started.
Hey Matt, Can you give us a scouting report on the JC WR commits.. their highlight videos look very impressive, any updated stats for the season?? Illinois defense looks very slow at safety and LB/Star position, is there any help on the way with impact defensive players?
Illinois has two junior college wide receiver commits so far in the Class of 2014 in Geronimo Allison from Iowa Western Community College and Tyrin Stone-Davis from Pierce (Calif.) College. Both are tall, physical wide receivers who fit the mold of what you'd like to see out of a possible No. 1 wide receiver. Not saying they're going to come to Illinois and rewrite all of David Williams' records, but they have the natural physical characteristics you'd like to see out of a dominant wideout.
Allison is leading Iowa Western in receiving this season, having hauled in 50 catches for 613 yards and eight touchdowns so far for the Reivers, the defending NJCAA national champs. He is the No. 1 target for a balanced Iowa Western offense.
Stone-Davis, along with his twin brother Tyree Stone-Davis, a Class of 2014 Illinois commit at cornerback, is redshirting his season at Pierce. This is so he will arrive at Illinois with three years of eligibility. Allison will only have two.
The Illinois defense has look outmatched at times this season, mainly against Washington, Nebraska and Wisconsin, and, at times, against Southern Illinois in the season opener. Speed is lacking on this year's team at most of the linebacker and secondary positions. Having another defensive back commit, preferably a free safety or strong safety, is a high priority for Illinois after trying to find the ever-elusive defensive tackle who can contribute significantly.
At the STAR position, Mike Svetina and Eric Finney will still have two seasons left at Illinois while B.J. Bello and James Crawford are possible starters at that spot in the future. In the current Class of 2014 and the commits Illinois has, no player currently fits the mold of what Illinois is looking for at that position.
Seems like the Illini are lacking in the trenches. Remember Zook saying he could get all the lineman he wanted in the Midwest, but that doesn't seem to be happening. If you can't control the line of scrimage, your chance of winning goes down. Any chance we get some good lineman yet in this years class? Also with Young and Ferguson getting closer to senior year, any good RB's interested in Illinois? Would you say other than Ohio State, the teams left on the schedule are all beatable?
Illinois has not attracted top flight talent along the defensive line in recent years. The results of poor recruiting the last few years of Ron Zook's tenure are on display this season. Illinois has three linemen total so far in the Class of 2014, two on the offensive line and one on the defensive line. They'd desperately like to add another defensive lineman, preferably a defensive tackle, still in the Class of 2014. Tito Odenigbo is the only defensive lineman they have so far, and the Centerville (Ohio) product is a defensive end who could project later on as a defensive tackle.
Nick Allegretti is a stud offensive lineman from Lincoln-Way East, and the center will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in early January. Peter Cvijanovic, the younger brother of Illinois left tackle Simon Cvijanovic, committed a few weeks ago, and the Illinois coaches are hoping they get a steal on a player who developed a bit later in the recruiting process.
Illinois had St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) running back Madre London, a Class of 2014 recruit, on campus last weekend for an official visit. Matt Domer from Chicago Mt. Carmel is already a Class of 2014 commit who should be on campus this weekend for the Michigan State game.
At this point in the season, Illinois will likely go into every game as an underdog. If Illinois can move the ball effectively against Michigan State and get a few stops, they might be able to celebrate a homecoming win. Penn State is an enigma, like much of the other teams on Illinois' schedule (with the exception of Ohio State, which is very good, and Purdue, which is very bad). The November games at Indiana and at home against Northwestern could become toss-up games depending on what the next month of the season looks like.
You guys know if Cliff commits to Illinois, the headline has to be "Merry Cliffmas," right? If you didn't, you're welcome.
Thanks for the headline suggestion. Nice touch on that one. I'll pass it along. If Cliff Alexander commits, every day until he shows up at Illinois might feel like Christmas to Illinois fans.
Going to wrap the chat up for this week. Need to finish up some writing this afternoon for tomorrow's paper. We'll have an update on Wes Lunt in tomorrow's News-Gazette, as well as up here on HQ, and plenty of other notes regarding tomorrow's game. And we'll start our Live Report on HQ around 12:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon from the Memorial Stadium press box.
Any other questions you all might have, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter (@mdaniels_NG). Have a great weekend everyone!