2014 Recruiting Manifesto

Fletcher Page delivers his for-real thoughts on Illinois 2014 signing class....

CHAMPAIGN - Alfred Hitchcock would shake his head in disappointment.

Where's the suspense? Where's the thrill? Nobody is on the edge of their seat.

That's because Illinois essentially wrapped up it's 2014 recruiting class in December, two months before the drama and hustle and bustle of National Signing Day could spark interest, debate and tweets of despair/ecstasy.

Cliff Alexander shunning an Illini hat to sign elsewhere? Please. At least that would get the Illini in the news.

Instead, there is no build-up. Nobody is choosing between Illinois and elsewhere. Any news today will likely be bad news. Names rolling through a fax machine that were supposed to come through. Oh boy! Set the DVR, folks. You don't want to miss this. Yeah... right.

The only bit of shock that sprang up this week is some guy named Chris James climbed on board Tuesday night. Who is he? Dunno. What's he rated? Three less stars than Adoree Jackson. Remember him? What a shot in the arm that would be for us drama-seeking junkies.

Instead we're left with what Scout.com considers the worst class in the Big Ten. It's somewhere around the 70th best in the country, which, let's face it, is where Illinois has been as a program for a while now.

We know, we know -- if you want to play better, you've got to recruit better.

Is this good enough?

The stars and numbers say no. I don't have to berate the point. People are going to tell you why this class isn't junk. Those people are playing the PR game, I'll be the first to out them. They'll say, look the numbers were low and the staff did this and that and whatever. I'm telling you, those people don't know what they're talking about, just that it will benefit them to talk Illinois up because there's no point in vested insiders shooting down a Big Ten program.

I'm not that kind of guy. I'm not going to sugar coat your cookies. This class hinges on these junior college prospects panning out and doing something.

I mean, I think Nick Allegretti is an exceptional person. I've been around him and his family enough to know. I believe Mike Dudek is a sleeper. He could surprise you with what he develops into. And just wait until Matt Domer gains weight and strength. Malik Turner and Chayce Crouch, too.

But Tim Beckman doesn't have time for all that. He needs six wins at a minimum next year. Even if it's at the Alamo and sponsored by some off-brand beef jerky, Illinois needs to go to a bowl game.

Is this class good enough to help out? Everything says no. I can scream and yell and shout and holler, but my voice doesn't change anything. Those JUCOs better, though.

Some people's jobs depend on it.


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