The 2018 Illinois Recruiting Class. The basic overview of the class, the relative strength, what you need to know if you don’t care about recruiting, the star, and the depth chart hole going into the season.
Illinois Recruiting Class Overview
Most of the work was done over the last few years, and Lovie Smith and the coaching staff went very, very young on the field last season, but the 2018 recruiting class will get its shot to contribute right away, too.
It’s a class about the infrastructure of the offense, signing five offensive linemen, including Verdis Brown and Reuben Unije – two ready-made blockers out of the IMG Academy.
The secondary doesn’t have any real superstars, but there are plenty of defensive backs around Nick Walker, a JUCO transfer who might step in and start at one corner job right out of the gate.
There’s a smattering of talent for most of the other positions, but …
The Illinois Class Is Heavy On …
The offensive line and secondary are getting the most prospects, but the Illini need an answer at quarterback. Now.
That’s why Smith signed on M.J. Rivers out of Texas, a 6-4, 212-pound all-around prospect who can do a little bit of everything. He wasn’t a huge recruit, but Iowa State wanted him. Also committing is Coran Taylor, another big dual-threat prospect coming over from Peoria to take his shot at the starting gig.
Cam Thomas might be the main man for the job early on, but it’s a wide open race and there for the taking.
The Star of the Illinois Class Is …
DT CalVin Avery, 6-2, 315
And here’s your anchor for the Lovie defense.
A bowling ball of a defender, the Dallas native is quick off the ball and can destroy backfields as a dangerous interior pass rusher. USC wanted him, and so did Texas, Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. But he was a part of the Illinois recruiting class early last year, and now he’ll be counted on to be the main man to work the defense around.
The Illinois Biggest 2018 Depth Chart Hole Is …
QUarterback, But …
The quarterbacks also need playmaking receivers. With Jeff George Jr. and Chayce Crouch taking off, again, Illinois needs passing options, but the receiving corps has to be far, far more dangerous, too.
There were only eight touchdown catches last year, and just four came from the wideouts.
Edwin Carter out of Jacksonville is a 6-3 deep threat who can hit the home run, and Carlos Sandy is a quick, smallish receiver out of Fort Lauderdale who could also serve as a return man.