Looks Like University Of Illinois - Cooper Davis
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I wrote a thing last December where I talked about how we had exhausted our "we can sell playing time" thing and that recruiting would be a struggle "until we win our sixth game next year". We actually did win that sixth game, so now recruiting should no longer be a struggle.
I already need to clarify: it's always going to be a struggle. We're always going to be Illinois, so it's not like we'll ever have our pick of recruits. But now that the sixth win has been achieved, it's time for recruiting to kick up a notch. Which is why I said that "I expected more sizzle" thing when I talked about Anthony Shipton committing last week. We got that sixth win and since... two jucos. Yes, one had a Nebraska offer and the other had an Arizona offer, but still, that's not what I expected with the bowl secured. I wanted to step up to the next level.
These three recruits this week - Davis, Spann, and Riggins - bring us up to the level I expected. I thought about writing all three at once here, but each guy deserves his own LLUOI. So I'll just talk about what it "means" under the Davis LLUOI and then write the Spann and Riggins LOI's later.
As I've said before, I go back through Twitter to find the offers for each recruit. Often, the lists on Rivals or ESPN or 247 can't really be trusted. Someone maybe got an offer in 2017 from Oklahoma State but it's 2019 and that offer expired long ago after Oklahoma State saw his junior film and backed off (or whatever). So I want to know the timing of the offers and how each recruitment played out. For all three of these guys - Davis, Spann, and Riggins - this is the end of the pool we need to be swimming in.
Spann had offers in early 2019 (Florida State and Georgia) and then, with those offers probably not valid anymore, had a few late offers as well (Auburn and Utah). Riggins is a little different since he committed to Miami as a sophomore in high school and then decommitted from there to flip to Illinois. But throughout his timeline he lists offers along the way from Florida, Pitt, Syracuse, and Arizona State.
For Davis, here's the timeline:
West Virginia is his first Power Five offer back in February. We are then his second P5 offer in March. Once assistants are out on the road (April 15th through May 31st, when most P5 offers happen), he goes on a big run of offers. Tennessee, Syracuse, Missouri, Nebraska, Louisville, Purdue, and Pitt. He chooses to take an official visit in June to Missouri and that's it - he commits and shuts down recruiting. Missouri fires their coach after the season, he visits Illinois, and he flips.
That's the kind of post 6-win recruit I've been looking for. Those are the battles I want to win in December. Again, it's hard to only look at offers when a recruit commits early. Had Nick Broeker (SHG) picked Illinois when we offered first in March of his junior year, we would have all said "oh great another offensive linemen with only one P5 offer". Instead he waited, picked up a bunch of offers during the recruiting window, picked Ole Miss, and, you know, was a freshman All American down there. So you can't ever look at someone's early-April offers and play the "is this the end of the pool we want to be swimming in?" game. As I've said a dozen times, July 1 is my "NOW you can look at offers to evaluate the kid" date. End of camp season, the majority of the kids who are true P5 players have been identified.
Which means that when you're looking at December recruits, lean heavily on offers. The fall discoveries have been found and offered by this point. When you do that with Cooper Davis, you'll be happy. The right end of the pool.
Film looks good, too. As someone said to me on Twitter, he's that big defensive end who always seems to come out of the Iowa or Wisconsin Defensive End Factory and have two great seasons as a redshirt junior and senior. I'm doing everything I can to resist the Fred Wakefield comp here (Fred played for a long time in the NFL, so that's a lofty comp), so maybe put me down for Derrick Strong as the comp? That's shooting high, too, but tall, athletic DE's are hard to find. So let's aim high.
For Tom Cruises, this one seems to be right between 3 and 3.5. I know Spann is getting at least 3.5, and Riggins might, too, so I'll try to stay calm and go with 3 here. Really solid pick-up, should be a big contributor.
Cooper Davis - three Tom Cruises.