Looks Like University Of Illinois - Sedarius McConnell
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I'll start here: Sedarius McConnell retweeted something the other day that gave me the sense that he's a sweet spot recruit. There are always levels of pursuit when it comes to high school players - ask any parent of any recruit and they'll you that some staffs are clearly ready for you to commit ASAP and other staffs want to string you along as long as possible while they pursue other players (the better the program, the more they string you along, as it should be) - and a coaching staff can sometimes use that to their advantage. That's my guess here. I'll try to explain.
Let's start with offers. Last spring, Sedarius McConnell added Vandy, Minnesota, Louisville, and West Virginia offers. After his junior season (these are the offers to pay attention to because you don't really know how many of the 2019 offers are "we are actively recruiting you" vs. "we offered so we could be one of your first offers in case you blow up but we haven't really contacted you in five months"), he added offers from Pitt, Duke, Kansas, Wake Forest, and Illinois. His commitment video mentioned his three finalists - Illinois, Minnesota, and Wake Forest. He picked Illinois.
He recently retweeted this tweet:
Breaking: Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake DE Sedarius McConnell has committed to #Illinois.— ChadSimmons (@ChadSimmons_) May 20, 2020
“They made me feel very wanted.”
• @SEDMcC @WestlakeFB1 @IllinoisRivals @rivalsmike @JoshHelmholdt @adamgorney
"They made me feel very wanted" is a fairly frequent quote when players commit. Sometimes it's just a thing to say, but sometimes, it's the answer to "why this school instead of the others?". I should just make some things up in my attempt to explain. I'll pick five schools from McConnell's list, including one who didn't offer.
It's May 1. McConnell talks to four schools that day. The Wisconsin coaches tell him "hey man, an offer is just around the corner. Things are crazy here but we're really interested, give us a few more weeks to sort things out." Translation: they like a few other defensive linemen more, but if they miss on those guys, expect the phone to ring.
McConnell also hears from Louisville. Their coaches hem and haw about not being certain how many defensive ends they're taking now that they landed Ryheem Craig. McConnell gets the sense that he's out.
He also hears from three schools who really want him - Illinois, Wake Forest, and Minnesota. They're not giving him the runaround - they want him. He's been telling the coaches that he wants to make a decision in May, so they know of the timetable and it doesn't scare them. The Toledo coaches were pushing all spring saying "those other schools don't want you to commit - we'll take you RIGHT NOW", but now he's getting that message from these three P5 schools. Wisconsin and a few other programs are asking him to wait, put it off, we might have a spot for you, but he doesn't want to wait anymore - it's time. He'll chose from those three.
Again, I'm making all of these details up. But that's sometimes how this game is played. Sometimes it's just a "make him feel wanted" recruit. That's what I mean by sweet spot. Identify your guy, figure out his timeframe, be right there with the "you are very important to us" message while some other schools are attempting the runaround (because they're chasing 4-stars).
Perhaps this is just hope-filled. Lovie's staff is always slow and methodical with recruiting, so I always worry that we're missing some of these while we play the "let's keep evaluating this whole thing" game. So maybe I'm just taking the "they made me feel wanted" quote and running with it. But, this is a solid recruit from a solid high school with a solid offer list and decent film. Hope to see us guide more of these planes down to our runway.
OK, so what do we know about McConnell? Well, we know that Westlake HS is a football factory. I remember looking this up when linebacker Julian Jones (also from Westlake) committed to Tim Beckman six years ago. Westlake is the high school program that produced Pacman Jones, Cam Newton, and the 16th pick in this year's draft, AJ Terrell. So McConnell has been playing big boy high school football. That's always a plus.
And that's why watching film like this is always so jarring. The football is so much better. I just recently watched some film of a player from Illinois (I won't mention the school because this isn't a hit piece), but let's just say that Westlake would probably beat that team by 63. And Westlake went 6-5 last year, losing in the first round of the Georgia state playoffs. McConnell is the 82nd best player in Georgia? He'd probably be the... 15th best player in Illinois?
I'm probably exaggerating there. But every time I review film like this it strikes me just how much better the football is in the south. A quick glance shows seven 4-star recruits in Illinois and three 5-stars plus 26 4-stars in Georgia. Population of Illinois: 12.6 million. Population of Georgia: 10.6 million.
And I'm guessing we'll see a fair number of recruits from Georgia in the future. New defensive ends coach Jimmy Lindsey was hired partly for his Georgia connections. He recruited the area while he was the DL coach at Georgia Southern and then while at Western Kentucky. And if you look up McConnell's 247 page, credit for his recruitment goes to... Jimmy Lindsey.
Film-wise I'm a little disappointed. That will probably earn me a few ROBERT WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM responses, but when I saw the high school and the offer list I was hoping he'd pop off the screen (like Trevor Moffitt did). I didn't see that. I saw a defensive end who will have to bulk up and play defensive tackle. That's fine - that's Tymir Oliver, and Tymir Oliver was a perfectly acceptable Big Ten defensive tackle. I was hoping to get a little nuts here and toss out 3.5 Cruises or something. And I don't see that. I see an acceptable defensive line project.
For Tom Cruises, that means I'm between 2 and 2.5. I gave Tymir Oliver 3 Cruises, so perhaps I'm being too harsh here if Oliver is my comp. So maybe that pushes me to 2.5 over 2.
Sedarius McConnell - two and one-half Tom Cruises.