Everything you need to know and what actually matters about the 2019 Illinois Fighting Illini recruiting class.
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The talent is there, but there’s no bulk to this class. After loading up over the last few years with a whole lot of bodies, Lovie Smith went hard after as many top guys as possible without a lot of spaces to work with. Of course he’s always going after the best prospects possible, but this time around, he nailed it up top. But …
Here’s the problem. When it comes to recruiting, it’s a contact sport – the more contacts, the more chances at getting something right. With only 13 recruits, if there are even a few misses, the class doesn’t work. No pressure, but …
Isaiah Williams needs to be special. The superstar quarterback prospect is a smallish baller out of St. Louis who was given the full court press by Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and a whole slew of other top programs … as something other than a quarterback. He might be given a shot under center, but his NFL upside is at receiver. Think Purdue’s Rondale Moore.
Marquez Beason needs to be special. Is he a corner? Is he a slot receiver? Is he a kick returner? Is he a jack-of-all-trades? Georgia, LSU and Texas wanted to find out. Just get him out there somewhere and let him go.
And again, that’s the deal. If Williams and Beason aren’t AMAZING, this class could be a total dud.
It would’ve been really, really nice if Miami’s Jeff Thomas kept his transfer to Illinois, but he decided to go back to the Canes. If Williams and/or Beason aren’t receivers, there’s little in this class who’ll matter for the passing game.
Again, it’s a smallish class, but there are a few great defensive end prospects. Keith Randolph and Moses Okpala are big pass rushers who have the upside to be foundation bookends. But are they ready right away? The D needs them.
There hasn’t been any bulk for the defensive interior in the last two years other than star get Calvin Avery in last year’s class. Defensive tackle has to be a big priority in the 2020 class.
Lovie Smith has done the work and been patient. Now his team needs more playmakers to step up around all of the rising experience. It’s an interesting mix, but Illinois needs stars. This one might have them.