Illinois received 15 letters-of-intent Wednesday, giving Beckman and Company 25 total signees in the class. Headlined by quarterback Aaron Bailey, the class ranked No. 42 in the country and fifth-best in the Big Ten.
"I'm very proud of what this coaching staff has done because of course it wasn't the record (last season) that we all wanted to have," Beckman said.
The staff wasn't able to point to on-the-field success as part of the sales pitch, so recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh utilized any and all aspects of the program at his disposal.
"We've got a lot of things to sell," he said. "You bring up the two wins, we sold everything but that and sold the university, sold the academics, sold ourselves, and I think we've got a great young staff."
One overriding theme that helped the staff gain traction with recruits was early playing time.
"I ask any player that comes in, do they want to watch or do they want to play? A lot of players that are 18 years old want to play," Beckman said. "They want to be involved in college football. That's why they come."
The end result was a haul of players that Beckman says can make a difference.
The class included:
- 10 players that enrolled in January.
- Five junior college players, the most since 1998.
- 15 players from what the staff has labeled as Illini Nation, a six hour radius drawn around the city of Champaign.
- Four players from Chicago, or as Beckman calls it, "the state of Chicago."
"We've taken Chicago and put every one of our coaches in Chicago," Beckman said.
- Eight players from the state of Illinois, the most since 2008.
"We believe in this state," Beckman said. "We understand this state has very competitive and well coached football teams, and it is our prerogative to recruit this state as much as we possibly can."
- Nine players that played in a state championship game in 2012.
This class, according to Beckman, was more than about players trying to find a place to play football and go to school. It was about making a statement.
"These 25 young men that have come out and said they want to come out and be a part of Illini football," he said. "Even though we didn't have a successful football season we wanted, they made the commitment that they can come here, be involved with the family, be involved in playing and being involved in possibly playing in 2013. I think that was one of the things that really stood out from this recruiting class was that they're winners, and they can come here and be a part of a family and be a part of playing."