Looks Like University Of Illinois - Dalevon Campbell

Jun 1, 2019

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I can honestly say that we've never done this before. On May 30th, we sign a basketball recruit for the upcoming season. Then, on May 31st, we sign a football recruit for the upcoming season. These players are due to move into their dorm rooms next week.

OK, maybe this is how it worked in, like, 1933. Bobby Bulldozer from Centralia probably signed after his high school graduation. I don't even know if you "signed" back then. A bunch of students probably just tried out for the team like it was high school or something. So I can't say we've "never" added a basketball player on May 30th and a football player on May 31st.

But it's SO WEIRD, right? It's not something I've ever covered in my 10+ years blogging about the Illini. And now, in the past few years, we've added Matic Vesel, Greg Eboigbodin, Anthony Higgs, and Bernard Kouma after school let out and now in back-to-back summers we've added wide receivers Dominic Stampley (June 8th last year) and Dalevon Campbell (May 31st this year).

Now, I certainly get it. We have the scholarships available, and we're currently at DEFCON 2 when it comes to wide receiver depth. I'm sure we've been scouring the earth high and low to find any receivers still available. That's what we did last summer when we added Adonis De La Rosa to the basketball team. Vesel and Eboigbodin left, we were desperate for frontcourt help, there were maybe only 15 fifth-year players still available, so we recruited and added De La Rosa well after the spring signing day.

So I get it. We need bodies. But it's still so odd. Six years ago (Tim Beckman's first full class) I believe we had fifteen recruits verballed by the end of June. Right now we're at two recruits verballed in June and we just added one for the previous class. The class that moves into their dorms next week and begins summer classes. I wrote about late recruiting last month and I still feel like I didn't emphasize it enough. THIS IS WEIRD, PEOPLE.

In looking through Dalevon Campbell's Twitter (is it Day-luh-vonn or Dale-vonn?), it seems that we recruited a track guy who might be able to play football. Everything on his Twitter is so track-dominant. He comes from a high school outside Houston (Fort Bend Marshall) which appears to be the top track & field high school in the country. Need proof? Start googling "Fort Bend Marshall" and the first suggestion is "Fort Bend Marshall Track". Find me another high school in Texas where you start googling the name and "football" isn't the first suggestion.

Looking through articles, it appears that they 1) have won five of the last six track and field titles in Texas, 2) have the fastest time in the nation this year in the 4x100 relay and the 4x200 relay, and 3) send track and field athletes to Division I programs the way St. Thomas Aquinas or IMG Academy send football athletes to Division I programs. In fact, Campbell's Twitter lists some D-I track offers.

But now he's going to play football at Illinois. And that makes him, like, the 490th track athlete to sign to play football at Illinois under Lovie. I've said it for three years now - Lovie has a type for his skill positions, and that type is "track and field athlete".

Which, let's be honest, is a risk. If you're going to default to one thing, it's nice that "speed" is that one thing. But other Big Ten schools don't really recruit this way. Iowa goes for all-sport athletes (take the best football-basketball-baseball athlete at some midwestern high school, redshirt him, figure out a position, win eight games every year). Illinois is going for a track team. We shall see how that goes.

Why am I saying all of this instead of talking about Campbell? Because there's not much information to go on. Campbell's Hudl page only has videos going back seven months (which means, I guess, he only played one year of high school football). There's one year of video, and that video includes several plays shown two or three times from different angles, which is high school film for "there's not much film". It looks like you'd expect it to look: long, tall track athlete runs past people and jumps above them to grab passes out of the air.

Is that good? Yes, it's good. Speed + leaping ability is something we need. Just watch his track videos and you can see that this kid is fluid and fast. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's a football player. Playing wide receiver in the Big Ten is about creating separation (playing wide receiver anywhere besides high school football is about creating separation), and he doesn't show that on film. So this is a project for Andrew Hayes-Stoker: take a track athlete and teach him to create separation against Big Ten defensive backs.

Which is why I can't go higher than 1.5 Tom Cruises. He's tall and fluid and fast, and if he wants to take that one year of high school football and learn how to play it in college, I'm game. As I've always said, give me the kid who didn't camp anywhere over the kid who camped 17 places and didn't get any FBS offers. It might take a bit, but hopefully we can teach him how to play receiver.

For a project like that, though, the Tom Cruises stay low.

Dalevon Campbell - one and one-half Tom Cruises


ATOillini on June 1, 2019 @ 05:43 PM

Ok....you opened the door on this one with your reference to Centralia and how recruiting has changed. My 92 year old father lives in a nursing home not too far from C-U. He also happened to be senior basketball manager for the Illini in 1949-50. Somehow we were talking about recruiting a few months ago and my dad proceeded to tell me an interesting story. The great Dike Eddleman was finishing his fabled high school career at Centralia and was apparently set to sign with Kentucky. But a large car showed up at the Eddleman household and the family received a surprise visit from the Governor of the State of Illinois. The rest is history, including.......11 varsity letters, conference basketball MVP, Olympic high jump contestant, etc., etc.

Great story.

1970 John on June 1, 2019 @ 09:29 PM

If only the governor could spend more time recruiting for the University of Illinois and less time raising taxes on the State of Illinois.

iluvrt on June 2, 2019 @ 03:15 PM

Please let the Illinois governor do nothing, or all hope is lost

orangejulius on June 3, 2019 @ 01:21 PM

thanks for identifying yourself on Robert's IL sports blog as a conservative republican. How enlightening. Do you have any other fresh ideas?

track on June 1, 2019 @ 11:29 PM

For some reason, as I was reading, I thought you were going to say someone from Kentucky showed up with a briefcase full of cash

Illinimac68 on June 2, 2019 @ 10:35 PM

I've read that when Zuppke was the coach his recruiting pitch was if you end up attending Illinois feel free to come out for football in the fall.

Alaskan Illini on June 3, 2019 @ 07:27 AM

Robert, I'd suggest that Lovie's going for the intangibles - the one thing you can't teach is speed. It's great to go out and find kids who maybe dominated at the high school level in their respective sport alĂ  Iowa, but to find a kid who might be a future Willie Gault, or a Bob Hayes or a Rocket Ismail . . . what we would give for a WR who can actually stretch the field (now if we could only land a QB who can get the ball to him:-) )

In a perfect world we'd see this guy redshirt a year and watch and learn - and if he's got what it takes he'll come out with his hair on fire his sophomore season and show the world that he has the speed, the head, and the hands to play WR in the B1G.

But then again, who knows - maybe he can do that this year!

Nice summary . . .

JimmyTheLayup on June 3, 2019 @ 09:07 AM

Dell-von according to Werner.

Sweetchuck13 on June 4, 2019 @ 09:50 AM

Sorry Robert, but Bobby Bulldozer clearly went to Iowa. There's no way a kid with that name isn't a fullback or tight end at UFI.

ktal on December 20, 2019 @ 02:43 PM

FYI written after the season: this kid was one of only 3 or 4 who didn't redshirt, but was also injured after five games. Kid can play.

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