Camps Offer Long-term Payoff

The Illinois staff took the camps to Chicago on Sunday, a move that should have long-term rewards.

Two high school football camps in the Chicago area -- one at Lincoln-Way East, the other at Gately Stadium -- were a success on Sunday.

The full worth of the work put in by the Illinois staff might not be known in the short-term.

But Tim Beckman has been playing for the long-term on the recruiting trail since he arrived.

. The camps produced only one new offer, to 2016 tight end Noah Turner (Carmel Catholic). And the late afternoon commitment by junior college tight end Andrew Davis came via telephone from Iowa.

So, it's safe to say the camps didn't produce any immediate pop. While that would have been a nice add-on, the overall mission was accomplished.

"I just think with gas prices being four dollars a gallon it gives the kids an opportunity to get in front of our coaching staff on a football field instead of just in our facility," Beckman said.

Sunday was all about establishing connections and further engraining the brand.

High school and smaller college coaches paced the sidelines, watching intently. Little kids watched and threw footballs just outside the fence. Underclassmen with potential -- such as running back Ivory Kelly-Martin (Nazareth) -- received individual attention with Illinois coaches.

Beckman brought this method, known as satellite camps, from his time with Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State. That's where Beckman and recruiting coordinator/tight ends/running backs coach Alex Golesh first met. Beckman was defensive coordinator back then, Golesh a graduate assistant.

"We use to go down to Texas and do them," Golesh remembers. "That's where all the talent was."

Beckman and Golesh continued the off-campus events at Toledo. And when the move was made to Illinois, a few very important questions sprang up?

Golesh asked out loud: "How do we win Chicago? How do we win St. Louis?"

The staff already had the answer. When at Oklahoma State, go to Texas. So, at Illinois, with so many kids in Chicago… "let's go to them," Golesh answered.

Sunday offered a look at a well-balanced recruiting machine, a unit that's created momentum. The 2015 class already has six commitments, two four-star players included. Top targets like Miles Boykin and Flynn Nagel showed up on Sunday.

Former players Juice Williams and Howard Griffith were there. Current players Reilly O'Toole, Jaylen Dunlap, B.J. Bello and Mike Dudek were, too. And the incoming Nick Allegretti, in a tank top and huge championship ring, talked up Boykin and Nagel all day.

Adding it all up… there might not have been an immediate payoff. But there's no measuring how much real recruiting work was done on Sunday.

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