Three questions with: CBS Sports Network recruiting expert Tom Lemming
What do you think of the class Tim Beckman just assembled?
It’s a good, athletic class. Last year’s class was a good one, too. They win a couple more games this year, that should provide a nice boost. Those guys are exceptionally aggressive. Beckman has got an SEC mentality. I was in Georgia last week at a school, and in walks Nick Saban with Kirby Smart. I was at another school, and the same thing happened with Virginia Tech. Illinois is the same way with that aggressive, nonstop mentality. That’s the way you’ve got to be now.
It’s a small class, so it wasn’t high up on the team recruiting rankings. What are your thoughts?
I’d say it’s between being in the top 45 to the top 55, which is very respectable when you consider the wins haven’t necessarily been there a lot. The coaches know how to sell Illinois’ academics, which are outstanding, and the chance to not only play in the NFL someday, but get a great job when they get out. The facilities are good at Illinois. The one key word when it comes to recruiting is always perception. The perception is that Illinois is on the rise.
We’re seeing recruiting start earlier and earlier each year. What do you think about that?
Coaches are already recruiting a year in advance. A week before signing day with the Class of 2014, and everybody was really recruiting juniors instead of seniors. ... I think the college coaches would like rules where they don’t have to go recruit juniors until September of their senior year. For every Urban Meyer and Nick Saban and Tim Beckman who really like to go out and hit recruiting hard, there’s a lot of coaches who would rather play golf, stay home with their families and only recruit at certain times.