Beckman's strategy hits close to home
The question surprised Scott Hamilton. In a good way.
On Wednesday, the Unity football coach took a call from the Illinois football office. They wanted to know if Hamilton had time to meet with new coach Tim Beckman the next day.
"Sure," Hamilton said.
Beckman spent about 30 minutes at Unity, talking with Hamilton about a number of subjects. Beckman mentioned some of his ideas about spring practice and getting the high school coaches involved.
"I'm going to be in this guy's corner," Hamilton said. "The more he can do that with the coaches in Illinois and work his way out, the better it's going to be."
Beckman made nine stops Thursday, starting in Danville and going west. He visited all three Champaign-Urbana public schools and St. Thomas More.
While the local schools have produced their share of big-time players (J Leman, Mikel Leshoure, etc.), they aren't considered recruiting hotbeds. Why take the time?
"That's what recruiting is all about, getting out and spreading the word of this staff," Beckman said. "Our ambition of the staff is to recruit this state like it is the state university.
"It's good to see coaches. The lifeline of the program is recruiting."
Beckman, who attended Saturday's morning practice with a pair of recruits, said his staff is close to full. Beckman said he has one opening left.
Keith Gilmore will stay from Ron Zook's staff. The announcement on the remaining coaches will come as soon as possible.
"When it seems fit," Beckman said. "I'm not going to spoil anything with them. It's going to be a fine staff, no question."
Fullback Jay Prosch isn't practicing as he deals with a "medical issue," interim coach Vic Koenning said. Koenning said he isn't sure if Prosch will be able to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Illinois used freshman linebacker Ralph Cooper at fullback during Saturday's practice.
"We'll make sure we've got somebody who will go bloody someone's nose," Koenning said.
Defensive end Darrius Caldwell has returned to Atlanta, awaiting word from the NCAA on eligibility issues, Koenning said. Caldwell remains with the team, but won't be allowed to go to the bowl.