Newly hired Eastern Illinois head coach Adam Cushing vowed that his staff would not only work the recruiting trail hard but also get players from the state to commit to the Panthers.
Officially on the job less than three months, Cushing–the former Northwestern assistant–has done just that.
Cushing and his staff have signed 27 players, four being added after National Signing Day. Moreover, 18 of his recruits are from Illinois, nearly all from Chicago and its suburbs. EIU–which dismissed head coach Kim Dameron at the end of last season–had just three players signed in December.
The national recruiting website 247 Sports rates a trio of the EIU commits as three-star recruits: defensive end Dominic Moore, defensive back Jeremiah Ross and wide receiver Jaelin Benefield.
In addition, 247 lists the Moore-Ross-Benefield trio as three of the top four of EIU’s all-time commits (the website was founded in 2010).
Moore, from Chicago’s Perspectives Charter, is listed at 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds. The website Hudl lists his 40-yard dash time at 4.95 with a 230-pound bench press. Back in December, Illinois recruiting expert “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran of Rivals.com listed Moore as his 21st best recruit from the class of 2019. O’Halloran has been publishing and covering IHSA football since 1995.
(Barry Bottino contributed to this story)
Recruits signed: 27.
Top offensive needs met: offensive line, running back.
Top defensive need met: defensive back, defensive line.
Most players by position: offensive line (7), defensive back (6).
Most players by state: Illinois, 18.
States represented: Six states (Illinois 18, Alabama 2, Missouri 2, Indiana 1, Ohio, 2, Florida 1, Texas 1)
Shortest player: 5-9 (three players).
Tallest player: 6-7 (Dominic Moore, DL)
Heaviest player: 295 pounds (Elkhanan Tenelus, OL)
Lightest player: 150 (Christiaan Masucci, P/K)
Player from the farthest distance: Eklhanan Tanelus, Naples, Fla., 1,142 miles
Player from the nearest distance: Anthony Sottosanto, Frankfort, Ill., 156 miles
Name, position, height, weight, city and state (school)
Connor Aldrich, DB, 6-0, 160, Machesney Park, Ill. (Harlem HS)
Ameer Aqel, LB, 6-2, 205, Tinley Park, Ill. (Andrew HS)
Joel Barrows, LB, 6-3, 190, Chicago (Brooks Prep)
Charlie Brooks, DL, 6-0, 230, Flossmoor, Ill. (Homewood-Flossmoor HS)
Trevon Brown, WR, 6-0, 180, Oak Park, Ill. (Oak Park-River Forest HS)
Dylan Czerlanis, 6-4, 290, OL, Antioch, Ill. (Antioch HS)
Ivan Gleyzer, OL, 6-4, 270, Lincolnshire, Ill. (Stevenson HS)
Brandon Guido, DB, 5-9, 179, Aurora, Ill. (Waubonsie Valley HS)
David Hardwick, RB, 6-0, 195, Roselle, Ill. (Lake Park HS)
Jaelin Hayes-Benefield, RB, 5-10, 170, Pearland, Texas (Pearland HS)
Dylan Hughes, DB, 5-11, 170, Milford, Ohio (Milford HS)
Anthony Imperio, OL, 6-4, 250, Auburn, Ala. (Auburn HS)
Jason Johnson, LB, 6-2, 200, Matteson, Ill. (Rich Central HS)
Cameron Leach, DL, 6-1, 280, La Grange Park, Ill. (Nazareth Academy)
Anthony Manaves, TE, 6-4, 230, Chicago (St. Patrick HS)
Christiaan Masucci, K/P, 5-9, 150, Wildwood, Mo. (Lafayette HS)
Dominic Moore, DL, 6-7, 285, Chicago (Chicago Perspectives Charter)
McKinley Neville, DL, 6-3, 280, Batavia, Ill. (Batavia HS)
Kirk Pinkston Jr., WR, 5-10, 160, Indianapolis (Lawrence Central)
Jeremiah Ross, DB, 6-2, 180, West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West HS)
Matt Ross, DB, 6-0, 185, Lombard, Ill. (Montini Catholic HS)
Dylan Scaggs, OL, 6-6, 265, West Plains, Mo. (West Plains HS)
Anthony Sottosanto, OL, 6-0, 270, Frankfort, Ill. (Lincoln-Way West HS)
Nick Stricker, OL, 6-2, 260, Lemont, Ill. (Lemont HS)
Chad Strickland, OL, 6-5, 270, Smiths, Ala. (Smiths Station HS)
Elkhanan Tanelus, OL, 6-2, 295, Naples, Fla. (Barron Collier HS)
Jordan Williams, DB, 5-9, 185, Oswego, Ill. (Oswego East HS)