Yesterday was college football's National Signing Day and with it Illinois Football Coach Tim Beckman unveiled his latest recruiting class. Here to break down it with me is Illini recruiting expert Taylor Rooks of Fox Sports Next. We're going to find the bright side in Illini football recruiting. Yes, Rooks is talented enough to pull of such an accomplishment. Finding the silver lining in an otherwise bleak situation.
During Beckman's Signing Day press conference he said something rather unintelligent about the city of Chicago. It was self-aggrandizing and took a direct shot at Northwestern and Pat Fitzgerald. This ended up overshadowing the other news on signing day as I received a very high volume of messages (texts, tweets, direct, emails etc) that all said essentially the same thing. Those messages derided the intelligence and vocational competency of Tim Beckman. And most of the messages said very little beyond that.
It's understandable as Beckman's boastful Chicagoland comment deriding NU seems rather non-sensical. Recruiting service 24/7 has Colorado, Purdue, Illinois and Washington State as the lowest-rated 2014 classes from the power five leagues.
This year is Fitzgerald’s highest rated recruiting class ever. Not to mention every recruiting evaluation service places Tim Beckman’s haul as second to last in the Big Ten. Scout ranks NU’s class 13 spots higher than Illinois
But enough about that, let's move on to Taylor Rooks and the recruiting class discussion. Although if you need a really good laugh, check out 670 The Score's Boers and Bernstein soundboard, scroll all the way down to "Drops" and hit "Beckman WINT" button over and over.
Taylor Rooks, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background…….
- I am a student at the University of Illinois, though I sometimes forget I’m still in school. I am the reporting intern for FOX Sports Next Illinois, so I cover Illinois football, basketball, and recruiting. As of lately, recruiting has been my niche, primarily in basketball.
I also do some sideline reporting for BTN, and have appeared onCBS Sports Network, as well as many other sites online. I have also interned with the STL Cardinals, the PGA TOUR, and Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The coolest thing about me is probably that my uncle is Lou Brock. However, I’m probably the lamest person you will ever meet, I love Harry Potter and Space Jam. And I’m the one wearing heels on the court.
Paul M. Banks: Lou Brock! Nice! Pretty Cool. Follow Taylor Rooks on Twitter @ImTaylorRooks
Taylor Rooks: The bright side is that Illinois football hasn't started yet. Kidding. Sort of.
Bottom line is that kids want to go play for a winning program, and Illinois isn't that. It's no surprise that that have a low rated recruiting class. As far as freshies, I think Mikey Dudek could be a good receiver if he continues to develop, and Chayce Crouch is going to be a good quarterback. The key for Illinois is going to be whether or not the JUCO transfers pan out, and there is some talent there. The junior college kids are definitely the silver lining, because they can be an instant impact. Tyrin Stone Davis is a 3 star, and will fill a big gap at receiver, definitely a playmaker.
Banks: Yes, receiver is a position that is really going to be thin next fall. Just about everyone is gone. What about moving forward beyond next year, is there any light at the end of the tunnel for Beckman's beleaguered football program? At least from a recruiting perspective? Man, this is like a reverse Michigan State thing going on. They had a Rose Bowl win and a preseason #1 hoops team. In Champaign there's...…..
Taylor Rooks: The only light at the end of the tunnel will depend on this season. They need to at least have a .500 season, and even that could be out of reach. If they could pull that off, it would at least show progression. They are starting to get some in-state kids (though they are spatting with Northwestern), and coaching seems to be more cohesive.
I can't bash every single thing about the Illinois program. they always have stellar academic ratings, and a lot of the players help out around the community. Many of the players reference the fact that Auburn was 2-10, and then they won a National Championship.
It's true. Illinois doesn't have a Tre Mason, but it does have a chip on it's shoulder. Nobody wants to hear this, but last season was technically better than the one before. They at least won a Big Ten game, it's not a big step, but it is a step. Sometimes a step is all you need.
Banks: Agreed. 2013 was indeed a noticeable step up from 2012. And I am trying to find some positives here.
Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also a frequent analyst on news talk radio; with regular segments on ESPN,NBC, CBS and Fox. A former NBC Chicago and Washington Times writer, he’s also been featured on the History Channel. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)
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