Today we take a look at our Dream Recruiting Class. Although this class may be a bit of a stretch, we are on the short list for all of these recruits and most have already visited. Right now it looks like there are about 22 open scholarships, but that number is subject to change. This list is alphabetical, and not in order of importance.
Daryle Ballew, DT, Withrow (OH): Daryle will provide depth at a position of need. DT is a very hard position to find top tier recruits, and he is one. He was offered by BC, MSU, WVU among others. Needs to learn how to play with his pads a little lower to be more effective in the trenches.
Clint Brewster, QB, Mullen (CO): Clint is a very underrated talent, who would be a great addition for the Illini. He brings a gritty attitude to the quarterback position and will do anything for a victory. Although he visited Washington State this weekend, we think he will ultimately end up in Champaign. And don't forget his brother, Nolan, who will be a top defensive recruit next year, and is in the John Lynch mold.
Nathan Bussey, ATH, Dunbar (DC): Right now Nathan is his team's QB, but that will change when he steps foot on campus next fall. He will most likely start out at safety with a possible change to linebacker. Nathan is a current teammate of Arrelious Benn (top receiver prospect) and former teammate of current Illini stud, Vontae Davis. Although Nathan did not receive many major offers due to teams evaluating him mostly at the QB position, his athleticism will get him on the field quickly.
Mike Garrity, OL, Batavia (IL): Mike will provide depth for an otherwise thin offensive line. He will need to put on some weight and continue to improve his foot speed, but he does have a nice frame to add weight to. His stock began to rise last year when he outplayed a current Michigan OL recruit. Expect a redshirt year, but also expect good things from him in the future.
Steve Matas, DE/DT/OL, Mentor (OH): It has been said over and over that Steve is a high motor type guy, which is definitely right on target. He will remind Illini fans of Josh Norris with more size. We still aren't sure where, or on what side of the line Steve will play, but hopefully his nonstop work ethic will be contagious.
Marcus "Miami" Thomas, DB, Morgan Park (IL): Another product of the Morgan Park pipeline, Miami will need to put on some weight before he sees the field. But after a year at the training table and in the weight room, he should be ready to, at minimum, be a top asset on special teams. Eventually, Marcus will grow into a lock-down corner that will challenge for the spot opposite Vontae.
Craig Wilson, OL, Hargrave Military (VA) via Thornton (IL): Possibly the most underrated of all the incoming recruits, this beast of an offensive lineman has been getting stronger and improving his technique at Hargrave Military Academy. Look for him to be a major contributor at offensive tackle with the departure of Millington and Myles after next season.
Marvin Austin, DT, Ballou (DC): Regarded by many as the top player in the nation at any position. He brings speed and power to the defensive tackle position. Enjoyed his visit to Champaign, and will hopefully follow other DC area players to U of I. Goes to the same high school as Coach Locksley attended. If he chooses Illinois it might shock the recruiting world, but not Coach Zook.
Arrelious Benn, WR, Dunbar (DC): Top receiver in the nation. He understands that there will be immediate playing time and is excited about the prospect of playing with Juice. Right now his final 4 are U of I, Maryland, ND and FSU. Although it's been rumored that the Illini are the team to beat, Maryland will not go down with out a fight. He recently had a great visit to College Park, so don't count out the Terrapins just yet. Hopefully he chooses the Illini and the dominos start to fall in place. Will graduate early and enroll in January.
Josh Brent, DT, Central Catholic (IL): Close friend of current Illini TE Michael Hoomanawanui, which should help the Illini's chances.It's still tough to tell where Brent is leaning, although he does say the Illini are recruiting him the hardest. Would really be a great addition to the defensive line. DT is the toughest position at which to find top talent.
Devonte Campbell, TE/LB, Forestville (MD): Another Maryland product considering at the Illini. Campbell wants to be a TE in college but we think his future is at linebacker. We just don't think he has the frame to put on the weight that he will have to put on as a tight end. The Illini could really use him as a linebacker, however, which is definitely a position of need. Would play as a freshman on special teams, and would be a future star at one of the LB positions.
Sean Cattouse, ATH, Hubbard (IL): In our opinion, Sean's recruiting will go down to the wire. Part of this has to do with the fact that he may be waiting to see if he can get offers to play QB in college. Sean would be a great addition on special teams while he adds size and learns our defensive system. Teammate of Robert Hughes.
Brian Gamble, S, Massillon (OH): Brian went to the same high school as Antonio James and has the Illini in his final two. Has had a very productive senior year as a running back and safety, including an exceptional game in the Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge against highly ranked Chandler Hamilton (AZ).
Robert Hughes, RB, Hubbard (IL): There is plenty of playing time waiting for this superstar running back with Thomas and Halsey graduating. Still hard to tell where we sit with Hughes, though. Zook has made it very clear that he is a priority and will receive carries next year, which excites Hughes. However, we don't think a commitment from Hughes will come for quite awhile.
Mark Jackson, OL, Harmony Prep (OH): Although this mountain of a man is growing as a recruit seemingly every day, we still see two reasons why the Illini could steal a commitment from him. One is the fact that we helped place him in prep school and the other is that he and Cumberland went to the same high school. With the powers of the Big Ten starting to want in, this will be a battle until the end.
Jerrell McDaniel, ATH, East St. Louis (IL): This under-the-radar athlete can play many different positions for the team of his choice. Would be one of the most highly recruited football players in the state if his grades were better. He has all tools to be a great addition to the Illini on either side of the balll. We think it will come down to Mizzou and Illinois. Supposedly Dana Howard is in Jerrell's ear about spending his four years of college in Champaign.
Anthony Morris, WR, Thornton (IL): Morris would add much needed size at WR. While our roster is filled with receivers, none have the size and athleticism that Morris does. The Illini have not had a receiver like this since Walter Young and Aaron Moorehead were in school. Will need to improve on getting separation from corners, but after that, the sky's the limit.
Troy Pollard, RB, Andrew Jackson (FL): This scatback is perfect for a position of need in the spread offense. He can be used ala Terrell Sutton at Northwestern. He will get carries out of the backfield, screen passes, and lined up in the slot. Coach Disch has the important job of getting this Floridian to Champaign.
Renaldo Sagesse, DT, Montreal Vieux (Quebec): This hidden gem from Canada currently has the Illini as his leader. Illinois will need to continue their constant contact to keep Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc. away. The more schools that see his tape, the more offers he gets. Since we were the first to offer, hopefully we see him this January, as he will be enrolling at the school of his choice then.
Martez Wilson, DE/LB, Simeon (IL): If you have got a chance to see Wilson in person or on highlight films, you will agree that he is a game-changer whether at linebacker or defensive end (or even making an occasional cameo on offense as a WR/TE). Top in-state recruit is the top priority for Coack Zook and his staff. They will be battling the nation's elites for Wilson's services. All year we've heard comparisons to Simeon Rice ... comparisons that are right on target.
JC Punter: At first we didn't think that we would need to use another scholarship on a punter, but Kyle Yelton is just not getting it done. We have been at a field position disadvantage all season due to ineffectiveness in the punting game. We do think he will improve, but it is simply not worth risking him having another year like this one.
CHANGE OF HEART?
Jack Cornell, OL, Quincy ND (IL): After coming in second place for his commitment, this Michigan State commit may start to look around due to the firing of John L. Smith. The problem is that Cornell has become very close to some of the other Michigan State commits. Maybe if they start to waver, he will too???
Lamar Milstead, OL, Coolidge (DC): Similar to the Cornell situation. With John Bunting on his way out, will Milstead still end up in Chapel Hill? Although he has confirmed his commitment to UNC, he did visit Champaign for the Iowa game with the other Maryland targets.
Romale Tucker, LB, Ballou (DC): Look for this linebacker to stay with his commitment to Virginia. But the Illini do have a chance, especially if high school teammate, Marvin Austin, chooses the Illini.
See you in Pasadena,
Ryan and Adam Forman