CHAMPAIGN — Matt Domer lists Marshawn Lynch and Tre Mason among his favorite running backs.
“They both are really good explosive backs,” Domer said when he signed a letter of intent with Illinois in February. “I want to make a statement like them. My goal is to come in and play right away. That’s why I’ve been training very hard this offseason, (so) when I get down to school I will compete for playing time.”
The chance to find himself in the mix at running back won’t materialize this fall for Domer. The Chicago Mount Carmel running back was denied admission by the university and is not enrolled in summer classes, UI spokesperson Kent Brown said Tuesday.
Domer confirmed the news Tuesday with The News-Gazette that he isn’t eligible to play this season for the Illini.
“I knew what might happen,” Domer said. “I’m doing what I can to fix it and enroll again in January.”
Domer, who rushed for 1,467 yards and 16 touchdowns his senior season with the Caravan and was a special mention All-State selection by The News-Gazette, was the only running back Illinois signed in the Class of 2014. Domer committed to Illinois last July, picking the Illini ahead of offers from Indiana, Kansas and Syracuse, among others. He met academic requirements from the NCAA, but didn’t meet ones at Illinois.
“We’re disappointed, but we’re still hopeful he’ll be a part of our Class of 2015,” Illinois coach Tim Beckman told The News-Gazette. “He becomes a recruitable athlete again, but he loves the University of Illinois. He loves his recruiting class, and I think he really respects the coaches.”
Domer is enrolled to take classes this fall at Parkland College in Champaign, setting up a path where Domer could still wind up at Illinois. If he does meet the university’s admission standards and enrolls again in time for second semester classes in January, he would still have five seasons to play four with the Illini.
“We’d like to see how he progresses through some hours of community college and we want to give him a shot to get back here in January,” Beckman said. “There was extreme disappointment when we found out. In the middle of May is when it started to happen and unfold (that he might not gain admission), and we went through the process of trying to reinstate him to give him a chance to get readmitted. We worked every avenue we could to get him here. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.”
Matt Domer isn’t the first Tim Beckman recruit who has hit a snag before arriving at Illinois. A look at five others:
Tyree Stone-Davis 2014
Junior college defensive back from California via Philadelphia didn’t have the grades
Jordan Frazier 2014
Tight end from Springfield, Mo., flipped to Oklahoma State late in the process
Merrick Jackson 2013
Mammoth defensive tackle from Belleville Althoff — now at Iowa Western Community College — couldn’t cut it academically
Josh Jones 2013
Safety from Michigan decommitted before heading to North Carolina State, where he could start in 2014
J.J. Robertson 2012
Lincoln-Way East wideout was supposed to produce big numbers before becoming academic casualty