Buzz starts to build for Illini

Buzz starts to build for Illini

CHAMPAIGN — On-field success has been in short supply for Illinois football the past two seasons.

Lovie Smith is just 5-19 overall in his time with the Illini and is coming off a 2017 season where he played 22 true freshmen and went winless in the Big Ten.

Yet there's some legitimate recruiting buzz around Illinois in the 2019 class. It's part of the reason Bloomington's Griffin Moore committed to the Illini on Friday after an unofficial visit for a morning spring practice.

Moore is Illinois' second commitment in the 2019 class.

Marquez Beason, a four-star athlete out of Bishop Dunne in Dallas, was the first. Landing the top 100 prospect, who's tentatively penciled in as a cornerback and possible returner, was Illinois' biggest recruiting splash in more than a decade.

"I talked to Marquez (Friday) after I committed," Moore said. "Guys are buying in. That was the big thing with Marquez. Before he committed, my mind was pretty much made up. But after he committed, it made that decision so much easier seeing there's guys that have all these big-time offers, and they're buying into Illinois."

Now, Moore and Beason are turning their attention to their own recruiting efforts to add to Illinois' 2019 class.

Five-star athlete Isaiah Williams was also on campus for Friday's practice, and the Trinity Catholic (Mo.) quarterback is Illinois' top priority in the class.

"There's definitely some guys we're after right now," Moore said. "I think there's a real good possibility that (Williams) ends up at Illinois.

"The feel around it, it's fun. It's different, you know. It's exciting. There's a lot of buzz, and people are buying in. It's going to be fun to help rebuild this program."

Moore will try to do so while making a position switch. Bloomington's quarterback the majority of the 2017 season after an injury to teammate Colton Sandage, Moore is projected as an H-back for the Illini.

That was the purpose of Friday's unofficial visit. Moore wanted to see the Illinois offense in person under new coordinator Rod Smith and meet both him and new tight ends coach Cory Patterson. Moore came away from practice liking both coaches and feeling like he could thrive in Smith's offense even in a relatively unfamiliar position.

Not that being recruited as an H-back/tight end came as a surprise for the high school quarterback. It's a position the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Moore comes by naturally —

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Moonpie wrote on March 20, 2018 at 10:03 am

What buzz? Seriously? The record is awful and Lovie Dovie recruits mostly average talent. It's easy to just claim there's buzz and hope by claiming it that it has been manufactured. Sort of sounds like fake news to me.

PortlandIllini wrote on March 20, 2018 at 9:03 pm

Moon-unit from Uranus: The buzz is that 4 and 5 star athletes are actually coming to campus to talk with the coaches.  And one from Texas just committed. 

The skill position players probably realize that those 19 year old freshmen who played last year are going to be bigger, stronger, and more experienced this year.   The Illini should be more competitive in 2018 and 2019 as this group matures.