So How Did We Do?


Robert
Feb 02, 2017
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8 Comments

This entire recruiting year I've been writing posts about our needs. Here's who we've landed, here are the holes on the roster, here are the targets - that kind of stuff. So now that the ink is dry on the recruiting class... how did we do?

For starters, let's go back to the last post in that series. This was written at the end of the recruiting dead period (January 13th). I looked at where we were since the last post, supposed that we would add eight more players before signing day, and put together a list of positions where we needed to add players. If we were going to add eight players, I wanted them to be...

Defensive End (maybe even two more - we're desperate)
Offensive Lineman (if they see Watkins as a guard, go tackle; if they see Watkins as a tackle, go guard)
Tight End (two would be nice here as well)
Cornerback (would be great to get a taller, physical CB for Lovie to play with)
Safety (feels like the position is set with Stanley Green and Pat Nelson but we need depth)
ATH (give me another "might be a WR, might be a DB" type)
Fullback (this will probably be done through preferred walkons, but I want another Jay Prosch)
Jumbo ATH (give me a "might be a TE, might be a DE" type because I'm just not comfortable with just one of each above)

So... how did we do? Let's go through the list one by one.

Defensive End (maybe even two more - we're desperate)

Yep, we went with two more. In fact, we went with three more. But since I included "jumbo ATH" at the bottom of this list, I'm going to save one of those three for that spot (and the one that I'm saving is exactly that - a jumbo ATH who could honestly play tight end if we wanted him to).

Players we landed who fill this need: Deon Pate, Jamal Woods

Offensive Lineman (if they see Watkins as a guard, go tackle; if they see Watkins as a tackle, go guard)

I'm just going to guess that they see Watkins as a guard. Because the staff went out and landed an offensive tackle.

Player we landed who fills this need: Alex Palczewski

Tight End (two would be nice here as well)

We decided to go with just one. And he was our number one target at that spot. At the alumni event, Garrick McGee even used the Northwestern term: "superback".

Player we landed who fills this need: Louis Dorsey

Cornerback (would be great to get a taller, physical CB for Lovie to play with)

I'm not sure if he ends up at corner or safety (will likely be tried at both and might be the type of player Lovie wants to use as the nickel corner), but we did fill this need with...

Player we landed who fills this need: Bennett Williams

Safety (feels like the position is set with Stanley Green and Pat Nelson but we need depth)

It feels like we addressed this with two players. So I'm not sure which one to put here and which one to put below. It's between Dawson DeGroot and James Knight, and while Knight might end up at linebacker I still think they'll try to use him as a down-hill safety. So put me down for...

Player we landed who fills this need: James Knight

ATH (give me another "might be a WR, might be a DB" type)

The guy we landed is probably mire in the "might be a DB" category. In fact, when talking about him at the alumni event, Hardy Nickerson specifically said safety. But we've seen this before. Remember Steve Hull? He was an ATH recruit. Started at receiver as a freshman. Then went to safety. Then back to receiver for his senior year.

Player we landed who fills this need: Dawson DeGroot

Fullback (this will probably be done through preferred walkons, but I want another Jay Prosch)

Looks like it will be accomplished through the preferred walkon method as I suggested there, because we didn't add any fullbacks. Didn't really even offer any as far as I'm aware. This probably more goes towards the "specialist" category (like kickers and long-snappers) where you find that guy through your PWO program (and then put him on scholarship when he wins the job).

Player we landed who fills this need: none. We went with two DE's instead.

Jumbo ATH (give me a "might be a TE, might be a DE" type because I'm just not comfortable with just one of each above)

On an earlier post in this series - I think I called it "Holes" - I ranked all of the positions by need. And number 1 on the list of needs was defensive end. That's the direction the staff decided to go - as many jumbo ATH's as we can find.

Player we landed who fills this need: Bobby Roundtree

This is why I'm so encouraged by this recruiting class. I'm kind of a roster nerd, and I've found myself so frustrated in the past when doing an exercise like this. I'd look everything over and say "we need at least two more linebackers and at least two offensive guards... and then we'd land a wide receiver, two defensive tackles, and a safety because those were the players most interested in us.

With this class, each time I did this, the next wave of commitments would fill those needs. The coaching staff was apparently very focused on these future roster needs and organized their class to directly address each hole. And they didn't really do it with Plan C recruits (although guys like Williams and DeGroot were clearly Plan B guys offered very late). For the most part, they got their Plan A's (Roundtree at DE, Dorsey at TE, Palczewski at OT).

Which is wildly encouraging for the future. We took a big step forward in the talent level AND we addressed every roster need besides maybe punter. This was a really, really solid class.

And now let's put together a better one next year.

Comments

Chief Illiniweg on February 03 @ 01:46 AM CST

You know things have improved when the biggest gripe is punter. But hello? Punter! Have no inside knowledge but from my view, Coach Lig botched that whole deal.

I know that head coaches don't like to "waste" a scholarship on P/K. But as we've seen at UI too often, field position is huge. And date I risk bringing up handling the MS wind??

As much as Lovie talks about ST as the third phase...As much as a muffed punt changes momentum...As much as a missed 25 yd FG costs us a game...And as much of a gaping hole as we have at P on our Illini, I just don't get why we don't offer 1/85 slots to a Tucker Day on an OV.

Chief Illiniweg on February 03 @ 01:48 AM CST

*dare not date. Damn autocorrect. And apparently can't edit a post on my iPhone. ??

Illiniiniowa on February 03 @ 10:35 AM CST

We've seen several articles discussing this staff's remarkable closing ability. I was wondering if people thought they did a better job identifying targets that would be receptive to Illinois, if they were quicker to realize which kids weren't going to be interested (therefore not spending time on official visits for kids that aren't coming), or if they were just simply that good at closing? At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter as long as were getting quality student-athletes, but I was interested in your thoughts.

Illini Eug on February 03 @ 04:54 PM CST

It's more about their ability to close, than the other. This staff was competing against multiple P5 teams for many recruits. Previous staffs were competing against non P5 programs for recruits. This staff also has a recruiting staff that helps coaches identify targets that fit the scheme and profile. The added recruiting staff has as much to do with finding the right kids almost as much as the closing ability.

Bear8287 on February 03 @ 09:15 PM CST

Good stuff. Thanks.

Many seasons at this point I'd be disappointed about the dearth of basketball stories going into the home stretch of the B1G regular season, but this year keep the football stories coming until we get close to Groce being let go and JW naming a new men's basketball head coach...

Bear8287 on February 03 @ 09:20 PM CST

Just put up this last comment and then saw a little button that said "edit". Thought to myself, whoa, really? So I tried it just to see what would happen... it took me to the Illiniboard.com homepage. :-D

Okay, so I've really wanted an "edit" button for a long time now, but one that actually lets you edit your previous post. :-D

Brumby on February 04 @ 02:01 AM CST

Haha, sorry about that. It should be working now. Long story short, the bug was simply I didn't tab something over correctly, so if you weren't an admin it wouldn't let you edit.

Oops. Let me know if it doesn't work now, but I tried it with my non-Admin account and it was working for me.

IlliniHimey on February 04 @ 03:51 PM CST

I feel like I am reading Dan Bernstein. Yawn

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