CHAMPAIGN — In-state recruiting has been hit or miss during Lovie Smith's tenure with Illinois football. Where the Illini have hit, though, when mining the top talent in the state is offensive line.
The four veteran starters for 2020 — Alex Palczewski, Kendrick Green, Doug Kramer and Vederian Lowe — are all homegrown products. All but Kramer were part of Smith's first full recruiting class in 2017.
The Class of 2021 is shaping up in a similar way. Sunday's commitment from Manteno tackle Josh Gesky made for three in-state linemen recruits in the class. Gesky joins Loyola Academy center Josh Kreutz and Plainfield East guard Zachary Barlev. Illinois also landed DeSmet (Mo.) guard Brody Wisecarver in the 2021 class to help bolster its line.
Gesky, who checks in at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, is ranked as a three-star recruit by both Rivals and 247Sports. He had two other high major offers from Kansas and Syracuse, while also holding offers from Arkansas State, Columbia, Dartmouth, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Fordham, Montana State, Northern Michigan (Division II), Pennsylvania, Southern Illinois, UT Martin and Western Illinois.
Gesky's commitment brings Illinois' 2021 recruiting class back up to 15 prospects following the late July decommitment of Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland athlete Theodore Lockley. The Illini's class is now ranked 12th in the Big Ten by both Rivals and 247Sports and Nos. 57 and 60, respectively, by those sites nationally.