Signing Day Live Report

Matt Daniels here now and throughout the rest of the day.

Dami Ayoola has a chance to be a part of the Illinois football team during the 2014 season, Tim Beckman said.

Ayoola, a running back from Florida who was the top recruit in Beckman's, was dismissed from the team three days after the season opener to Southern Illinois.

Ayoola will play in the spring game on April 12.

"He's doing everything to prove that he wants to be involved with this football program," Beckman said.

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Tim Beckman rattling off stats revolving around this class, including fact some have played in state title games, in all-star games and classwork. 

The class has two valedictorians among the players, and overall GPA is 3.4.

Illinois currently has 52 players from the state on its roster, Beckman said. 

"When you talk about wins on the football field and wins in the classroom, they definitely have that," Beckman said.

***
Illinois has five in-state recruits in this class. Four are from the Chicago suburbs (Nick Allegretti, Matt Domer, Mike Dudek and Julian Hylton) and one prospect south of Interstate 80 (Malik Turner).

Illinois will never be able to fully lock down its state borders. There's just too much talent in the Chicago suburbs on a yearly basis. But for a school that prides itself on the logo "Our State, Our Team," having almost three-fourths of the class from outside the state will lend itself to some skepticism and criticism.

Illinois is banking heavily on the junior college ranks this year, which will leave the class as a whole very thin depth-wise in two or three years. But Tim Beckman feels like he needs immediate help. Hence why he went to the JUCO ranks the last two recruiting classes.

***
Here awaiting Tim Beckman's press conference, which is slated to start at 1:30 p.m. Loren Tate has arrived, so it can officially be a press conference.

Tyree Stone-Davis will not be joining Illinois in the future after all. Grade issues are the main factor with the cornerback from Pierce College in California.

His twin brother, Tyrin, a wide receiver, is still on board, although academic issues have kept him from enrolling early.

***
Going to sign off on the Live Report for a bit. Have to scrape off my car and do a little bit of shoveling before heading up to Memorial Stadium for Tim Beckman's press conference at 1:30 p.m.

Thanks for following along this morning. I'll be tweeting as well from Beckman's
presser, so feel free to follow along there @mdaniels_NG.

***
Illinois has 11 letter of intents in from various recruits throughout the country.

The biggest one came about 40 minutes ago from Jihad Ward, a defensive tackle from Globe Tech (N.Y.).

He is a four-star prospect according to one recruiting service, and had the most impressive offer list of all the recruits for Illinois.

Had a lot more info on here earlier throughout the day, but hit a technical glitch. Working to get all of that back.

Shows what I can do to a computer. The joys of technology.

***
Illinois' class won't be highly-ranked when the team rankings are compiled.

The class is mostly made up of three-star and two-star players, so that's the key reason why. And going 6-18 in the first two seasons doesn't make recruiting necessarily easy when the Illinois coaches go out on the road and are going up against the rest of the Big Ten.



***
Tre Watson from Tampa (Fla.) Catholic High School was the first letter of intent to arrive for Illinois. The linebacker's fax came in a few minute ago. Watson is a two-star recruit who committed to Illinois on Dec. 15 after a weekend visit left him impressed with Illinois.



Watson visited in December when Champaign-Urbana had snow.

When exactly hasn't C-U had snow this winter, though? I've got about 6 inches in my backyard right now that my dogs are absolutely loving right now.

Me, not so much. But Watson said he won't mind the adjustment to living in East Central Illinois during the winter.

We'll see how he feels in a year or two after he's endured it.

Watson comes from a solid high school program in Tampa, and played in the Blue-Grey All-American game a few weeks ago.

A random tidbit on his high school is outfielder Denard Span hails from Tampa Catholic. For what that's worth.



***
One aspect of signing day I find so ironic is the players still have to fax their letters of intent in. I'm going to go out on a limb that many recruits who sign today throughout the country have never used a fax machine before. Just saying.



***
Illinois found out recently two of its early enrollees won't arrive on campus until this summer in twins Tyrin Stone-Davis and Tyree Stone-Davis. Tyrin is the wide receiver and Tyree is the defensive back.

Tim Beckman said Monday night on "The News-Gazette Sports Page," on WDWS 1400-AM he already can tell the difference between the two. 



Watson's commitment started a flurry of them for Illinois in a short amount of time the week before Christmas.

Junior college defensive linemen Joe Fotu, Carroll Phillips and Jihad Ward followed that week.



It sure was a busy time for Illinois recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh, who criss-crossed the country for two weeks after the 2013 season ended. 



***
A breakdown of this class, including grayshirt QB Jeff George Jr., reveals the following. Illinois will have two quarterbacks in George Jr. and Chayce Crouch, an early enrollee from Newark (Ohio) Catholic.

Chicago Mt. Carmel's Matt Domer is the lone running back in the class.

There's a hearty supply of wideouts in this class, with Iowa Western Community College standout Geronimo Allison headlining the group. He received second-team All-American honors are he caught 69 passes for 872 yards.

Tyrin Stone-Davis from Pierce College in California is another one, along with two First Team News-Gazette All-Staters in Malik Turner from Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin and Mike Dudek from Neuqua Valley.

Dudek is already on campus as an early enrollee.

He and Turner both had more than 1,300 receiving yards this past fall.

Two offensive linemen are in the class with center Nick Allegretti from Lincoln-Way East and tackle candidate Peter Cvijanovic from East Coast Prep in Massachusetts.

Cvijanovic, a Cleveland native who is the younger brother of Illinois left tackle Simon Cvijanovic, is already on campus.

Allegretti will likely be on campus in a few weeks for the state wrestling finals, but the U.S. Army All-American did not graduate early. He'll arrive this summer.



***
Defensively, four defensive linemen in Joe Fotu from Laney College in Oakland, Calif., Jihad Ward from Globe Tech in New York City, Carroll Phillips from Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi and Tito Odenigbo from Centerville (Ohio) High School are in the class.

Fotu is on campus already, with the other three set to sign today.

It's funny to think about that Odenigbo was the first commit for Illinois and only defensive lineman Illinois had in this class until mid-December.

Then Fotu, Phillips and Ward all committed within a 72-hour span of one another.

Three linebackers are in the class. The first one to pledge to Illinois was Henry McGrew from Blue Valley (Kan.) when he did so in mid-June. He hails from the suburbs of Kansas City, Mo., and is about a half-hour from the city.

It's in the same part of the country that former Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase grew up in. And no, he reassured me, he's not a huge Kansas fan. Was when he was little (understandably), but said he's "All Illinois all the time," now.

Austin Roberts from Rice Lake (Wis.) and Tre Watson, who was the first recruit to sign this morning, are the other linebackers in the group. Roberts was having a standout senior season at Rice Lake through his first two games last fall before he tore his left ACL late in the third game.

He's still going through the rehab process, but hopes to be back at full strength by May or June. And, he says, he can cook one-minute rice in 58 seconds. Don't ask how, though, because he told me he's not revealing his secret.



The defensive backfield recruits consists of Lincoln-Way North's Julian Hylton, Pierce College's Tyree Stone-Davis and West Orange-Stark (Texas) High School's Chris James. All three are projected at cornerbacks.

Hylton will be one I'm intrigued to watch develop. He's really, really fast (Loren Tate can't even beat him in a foot race), but he played primarily at running back in high school. He was good enough there to rush for more than 2,000 yards and more than 30 touchdowns in 2013 and garnered First Team News-Gazette All-State selection.

James just committed to Illinois less than 24 hours ago, but he is another speedster who the Illinois coaches are hoping is an under-the-radar recruiting steal.



***
Nick Allegretti from Lincoln-Way East became the second recruit to fax in his letter of intent. The center, who has an older brother who attends Illinois, was also the second Illinois player to commit in this class, way back on March 11, a few hours after Tito Odenigbo became the first commit.

Odenigbo was the third letter to arrive today.



***
Austin Roberts was the fourth recruit to fax his letter in to the Illinois football offices.

The linebacker from Rice Lake (Wis.) is originally from New Jersey and is dealing with a torn left ACL that sidelined him for most of his senior season.

Was a two-way starter at Rice Lake, playing tight end and serving mostly in a blocking role at that position. But all he'll have to worry about at Illinois, along with recovering from his knee injury, is making tackles and providing pass coverage out of his spot at linebacker.



***
Early perusal of where Illinois' class stands with the rest of the Big Ten doesn't exactly give off great news. Rivals.com has the class 13th in the Big Ten, just ahead of Purdue.

It gets worse with Scout.com's ranking, which has Illinois with the worst class in the Big Ten. And at 247sports.com, the Illini come in 13th, again ahead of Purdue.



***
Linebacker Henry McGrew from Blue Valley (Kan.) High School is fifth recruit to sign with Illinois, so all three linebackers Illinois received commitments from in this class are now signed.

Which comes a year after Illinois did not sign a linebacker, so that was a big position of need for Illinois with this recruiting class. McGrew won a Class 5A state title this past season with Blue Valley, and was a big reason why. He compiled 159 tackles, had 3.5 sacks, forced two fumbles and rushed for two touchdowns as a quarterback used in goal-line situations.



***
Julian Hylton from Lincoln-Way North is the sixth recruit to send in his letter of intent. The athlete is expected to play cornerback at Illinois after he thrived as a running back this past fall. The speedster knew from the get-go that football might be his best sport. In his first football game in eighth grade, he returned a kickoff 90-plus yards for a touchdown. After he initially dropped the ball. First Illinois recruit from Lincoln-Way North and second in this class from the same school district (Nick Allegretti from Lincoln-Way East).

***
Carroll Phillips, a defensive end from Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi, became the first junior college player to sign this morning. He was followed by letters from Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin wide receiver Malik Turner, Chicago Mt. Carmel running back Matt Domer and West Orange-Stark (Texas) defensive back Chris James.

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