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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Illinois Football: Tim Beckman must keep kids in Illinois

With the April 20th commitment of Enoch Smith Jr. to Michigan State, the questions regarding the Illini's recruiting ability inside their own state are reasonably fair to the coaching staff.

Smith, a defensive tackle out of Mount Carmel, was Rivals' top-ranked player at his position in Illinois for the 2014 class. At 6-foot-3, 265 pounds, the defensive lineman could have surely added a presence to an Illinois defense that was ranked 10th last season in the Big Ten.

But the loss of Smith is not the whole story, it is just one of a long list of players that have decided to play elsewhere.

In the 2014 class, Illinois has lost four-star tight end Daniel Helm (Tennessee), four-star quarterback Clayton Thorson (Northwestern), three-star tight end Ian Bunting (Michigan), three-star lineman Brian Allen (Michigan State) and three-star athlete corner back Greg Taylor (Missouri).

There is still loads of talent remaining, and Tim Beckman needs to find a way to grab a collection of them.
Illinois, with three commitments so far, has been able to secure three-star offensive lineman Nick Allegretti, out of Frankfort, and two-star wide receiver Frank Dudek, out of Naperville. Allegretti, at 6-4, 280 pounds, is ranked 20th at his position in the nation by Rivals.

The three-member recruiting class, which also includes three-star defensive end Tito Odenigbo, is ranked 43rd in the nation.

Last season, first-year coach Tim Beckman had a 25-man class ranked 47th. In that class were just eight from Illinois. Four-star quarterback Aaron Bailey headlined the in-state class, which included five three-star kids.

In-state Northwestern grabbed five recruits, including a four-star and three three-stars. Big Ten rivals Iowa (three), Michigan State (three) and Purude (three) also outbattled Beckman's staff for future players.

While it is known that high school football talent in Illinois is not as rich and deep as Ohio, Florida, Texas and California, it is still a start. It is not like Beckman is trying to build a National Championship contender over the next three seasons.

To regain respectability in the state, as Illinois is behind Northwestern and Northern Illinois in the football ranks, Beckman must start in state. He must win the border battle against Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue, and he must make the Illini the state team every Illinois high school wants to play for.