Yeah, So...

The Class of 2014 Final Midwest Top 150 is out... Fletcher Page says Illinois didn't get enough of them.

CHAMPAIGN - The Class of 2014 Final Midwest Top 150 is out, and I'll just say it.

Illinois didn't get enough of them.

You can save yourself a few minutes and stop reading. That's the bottom line, point blank, period.

Props to the Illini staff for landing No. 88 Nick Allegretti, No. 92 Mike Dudek and No. 123 Matt Domer. Those guys are good players.

But three things immediately jumped out to me when I scanned the list. A) As I stated, that's not enough (34 players included reside in the state of Illinois). B) They're all offensive players (Illinois needs the most help on defense). C) Western Michigan had four more players from the 150 than Illinois (Wow).

Here's the part where I throw out some context (or excuses, depending on your disposition). Illinois didn't have many scholarships to work with in this class, and there was a priority placed on junior college prospects to fill immediate, glaring holes.

That's fine.

And I'll hand it to the staff, they've proven in the past that the 150 isn't an end-all, be-all when it comes it finding players that can play. Jaylen Dunlap and Austin Schmidt come to mind.

But at some point, with the margin for error as slim with hidden recruiting gems as it has been for the Illini in Big Ten contests, this staff has to help itself by landing players with better reputations, with higher "star ratings."

That's a great way to get fans excited. It's the best way to eventually become a contender.

Hey, nobody likes hearing the proverbial "nobody believed in me and look what I made myself into" success story of two-star sleepers hitting it big and becoming stars more than me. There's a lot to those stories that I can most people can relate to. And teams like Northern Illinois and Central Florida come along every so often and surprise us with a major bowl run despite the lack of major recruiting hauls.

But give me the highest-rated possible players all the time, and I'll take my chances.

Ohio State and Michigan State led the Big Ten with 12 kids on the list. Nobody is asking Illinois to compete with those guys just yet. But Iowa landed seven, Indiana six and Minnesota and Purdue each grabbed four.

If three is the best Illinois could do, I'll just say it.

It's not enough.


Illini Inquirer Top Stories