Looks Like University Of Illinois - CJ Dixon
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What's the rule, people? If you ever see me putting off writing an LLUOI post, there's a reason. And it's usually "I don't think this kid is as good as his ranking and you're going to toss tomatoes at me when you see his Tom Cruises". That's not exactly the case here, but... I'll try to explain.
Something seems off, right? 4-star QB commits to Illinois out of nowhere? I was sitting at a bar with friends on Friday night when I saw the news. I simply tweeted one word: what?
It just doesn't make much sense. We're all thinking we might have a Kansas situation on our hands (only two commits once the season started last year) and then we add a four-star QB with Alabama and Ohio State offers? What?
Once I get to where I have a decent signal I go searching for film. And... there really isn't any because he didn't start for his high school team last year. I know they're a powerhouse and the third-best QB on their team might be the top QB in the state of Illinois but... what? No real film?
I mean, you couldn't raise any more of my recruiting red flags, could you? Early offers as a rising junior but other teams backed off after he didn't win the starting job at his high school. Because of that, only mop-up duty junior film. Jumped at a committable Illinois offer. This is Reuben Unije again, right? People got mad at me when I gave Unije two Tom Cruises but I stand by that evaluation. And that evaluation was based on many of these same red flags.
On the flipside, this is a kid who went to an Alabama camp and got an offer on the spot. Ohio State saw him throw and offered him. They have the luxury of backing off when a kid doesn't have momentum in the recruiting game (they only take the safest of safe bets), but it's still the Alabama staff seeing him throw in person and offering him. That's not nothing.
It tells me that what we see in the little film that's out there is to be trusted. Tall kid with an effortless release. Looks like a "born to throw the football" kind of guy. I spent a lot of time dogging MJ Rivers (in the LLUOI post I wrote) for leaning over and throwing the ball like a baseball. Dixon is just the opposite. You can see why all those schools offered once they saw him throw in person. (They simply had to see him in person because there's not much film because he's basically played JV football up to this point OK I'll stop.)
Perhaps a better way to look at this is as a Maryland/Illinois battle, not "Illinois beats Alabama, Ohio State for Dixon". Which isn't bad! Looking at the crystal ball on 247 and the FutureCast on Rivals, most thought this was a kid headed to Maryland to play for Mike Locksley. Beating Locks for a recruit, especially since we have Isaiah Williams already on campus, is a big deal.
Honestly, I wish I could wait until November to write this one. It would take three great games as Grayson's starting quarterback for me to suddenly freak out about Alabama or Ohio State getting back involved. But it would also take three games where he plays poorly and is replaced by some sophomore for me to wonder just what we have here.
I guess I do always have my one wildcard Tom Cruise adjustment on Signing Day. I gave Seth Coleman two Tom Cruises last summer when he committed (he didn't have junior film either), and then after I saw his senior film, I bumped him to three Tom Cruises. So I could always keep the Tom Cruises low here (because of the red flags) and then bump him up this fall if he has a great season.
But I kind of don't want to keep the Tom Cruises "low" because of the red flags. This is still someone with a solid offer list and solid mechanics. I gave Reuben Unije two Tom Cruises because of the red flags and some rough film. This kid simply doesn't have much varsity film. Maybe I should go with my first-ever "INC" grade and then follow up once we see what he does on the field?
Nah - can't do that. That's cheating. I need to pick a lane. And the lane here, unfortunately, is currently dominated by the red flags. So I have to go with something much lower than what you might have been expecting.
CJ Dixon. Two and one-half Tom Cruises.