This early signing group means that two pairs of brothers will be on the Illinois roster this coming season. Tyrin Stone-Davis and Tyree Stone-Davis, twin brothers from Pierce Community College in Los Angeles were a close call when it came to enrolling early, but they put in the work in the classroom and were able to complete the necessary credits to arrive in Champaign in January.
Peter Cvijanovic, younger brother of current Illinois tackle Simon Cvijanovic comes to the Illini from East Coast Prep, where he attended following a high school career in Ohio. Cvijanovic, who camped at Illinois several times during high school, earned his offer while at prep school and committed on the spot.
Staying Strong in the JUCO Ranks:
Illinois brought in more junior college recruits in the 2013 class than in several past classes combined. In the 2014 class, it appears that Illinois will continue that trend.
Of the early enrollees alone, the Illini are bringing in four junior college players. Two of those are the Stone-Davis twins. The other two will fill positions of need where those players are expected to contribute early.
Receiver Geronimo Allison of Iowa Western and defensive lineman Siosifa Fotu (goes by Joe Fotu) both figure to be in the rotation early at their respective positions. Allison played for a national champion junior college program at Iowa Western. Fotu was more of an under-the-radar player, but comes from a winning program at Laney.
Additionally, Illinois picked up a commitment from Carroll Phillips, a linebacker originally from Miami, FL. Phillips won't sign until February, but again it proves that Illinois coaches are able to find players in the junior college ranks.
"Our State, Our Team" has been the motto since Beckman arrived, and while Illinois has several in-state commits, only one signed early with the Illini. Mike Dudek, a receiver from Naperville's Neuqua Valley High School is one of the first athletes from Neuqua to graduate early and enroll at a college for the spring semester.
Dudek proved this season that he improved significantly and added strength. Dudek's signature has always been his speed, but he showed stellar route-running and hands this season. The big questions is how he will adjust to the college game, but if he can, he could be an early impact guy who can provide Illinois with a true slot receiver that they have been lacking for some time.
Glad to Have You Back:
Originally a 2013 signee, Miami Norland's Paul James now joins the Illinois class of 2014. He was expected to contribute in some form this past season, but now that he arrives a year later, he's needed more than ever, as Illinois struggled to generate any sort of pass rush in 2013.
James comes from a successful Norland program that has produced several division one players. His combination of size and strength should make him a viable option and a regular on the field this coming season if he can stay healthy.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Quarterback:
Illinois has recruited very well at the quarterback position as of late. And for the 2014 class, offensive coordinator Bill Cubit went out in search of his quarterback personally to ensure that he got the guy he wanted.
Crouch didn't wait too long to commit after getting the offer, and it didn't take long for him to start building a relationship with future teammate Mike Dudek. The ability for both to be on campus early should be a huge advantage down the road.
Crouch is also accustomed to success. His Neward Catholic program has made deep playoff runs each of the last couple years with Crouch at the helm. Can his winning ways translate to Illinois? Only time will tell, and he'll have to crack the lineup against a very deep quarterback depth chart.
"Show Me" Something
Jordan Frazier might be the epitome of "under the radar". A homeschooled kid from a smaller Missouri town playing with a bunch of other homeschooled kids ends up at a division one program.
Frazier led his team to a national championship among homeschooled programs and is a good athlete for his size. It's not entirely clear whether he'll end up on offense or defense, but his versatility could be a huge asset once he arrives on campus and gets in a college weight program.
Frazier is listed as a tight end for now, but he could end up providing depth on either side of the ball if the need arises.