Neither of the signees at quarterback are those "instant impact" type of guys, but with who Illinois currently has on the roster, they don't need to be. Both Wes Lunt and Aaron Bailey still have two years of eligibility left, and Chayce Crouch, who redshirted this past year, has all four years to play.
Fitzgerald is tough to evaluate because he missed a majority of his senior season due to a knee injury. By all accounts, he was putting up big numbers leading up to his injury, but this spring will be telling for both his ability to grasp the college playbook as well as the status of his knee. Illinois fans are more than familiar with Illini great Jeff George. Now the next in his lineage is following in his father's footsteps as a quarterback at Illinois. George Jr. played at a powerhouse program in Indianapolis, leading his team to an 11-3 record. While he didn't light up the stat sheet, he was steady for his team and recorded a career 23 touchdown to 13 INT ratio.
Running Back: A
With Josh Ferguson graduating after this season and Devin Church transferring, Illinois signed a total of four running backs in the class, including a signing day decision from 4-star Ke'Shawn Vaughn. Dre Brown, the second prospect to commit to the class, along with Vaughn, give the Illini two 4-star rated running backs in the Scout 300. Brown has exceptional balance and has developed even greater power over the past year. Vaughn is a do-it-all back who cuts exceptionally well and had an extremely productive senior year (2,500+ yards rushing and 40 total touchdowns). Brown and Vaughn will form a vicious one-two punch in the Illinois backfield.
Reggie Corbin, who plays at one of the top schools in the DMV, is a home run threat any time he touches the ball. Corbin rushed for nearly 1,000 yards on the season, but really flashed his ability to be a threat in the passing game this year, and will likely pick up some of the duties Josh Ferguson will be leaving behind once he graduates. Henry Enyenihi is a thunderous running back who can get the tough yards. At 5'11" and nearly 220 pounds, Enyenihi is projected to be the downhill power runner Illinois lost when Donovonn Young graduated.
Having such a deep stable of talented running backs will help reduce the wear and tear on the position group as a whole and should provide much needed depth that hasn't always been available at Illinois.
Tight End: B+
Illinois assembled yet another deep group of athletes at the tight end position. The additions of Davis and Johnson provide the Illini with two experienced and skilled tight ends with two different skill sets. The timing of their arrival is ideal, as Illinois graduated both Matt LaCosse and Jon Davis this year. Andrew Davis and Johnson should fill those roles seamlessly and their early arrival on campus for spring football helps immensely.
Caleb Reams is very reminiscent of Jon Davis, but is a more skilled pass-catcher. Davis spent a large amount of time in his high school career playing out of the backfield, whereas Reams spent much of this past season split wide for Warren Twp. The repetition of running routes and facing linebackers and DBs regularly will help Reams with his matchups early. Though Reams is very talented, a redshirt year would be ideal with Johnson coming in to preserve as much of his eligibility as possible.
Wide Receiver: C+
The grade here isn't indicative of the caliber of each of the players signed, and it does take into consideration the decommitment of A.D. Miller. But Illinois didn't sign a big WR class with a lot of depth already on the roster. The two players that they did sign at WR hold plenty of potential, though. Sam Mays is a rangy WR with excellent jump ball skills and precise route-running ability. Texas football is played at a high level, and Mays was a standout in that arena. Desmond Cain is a two-way player at his high school, but his playmaking ability will likely land him on the offensive side of the ball at Illinois. Cain has all the raw tools to make an impact at WR but will take some time to be coached up at the position.
Offensive Line: A
Gabe Megginson (Jacksonville, IL - Jacksonville HS)
Adam Solomon (Indianapolis, IN - Bishop Chatard HS)
Zeke Martin (Medina, OH - Medina HS)
Jordan Fagan (Chula Vista, CA - Grossmont CC)*
Zach Heath (Penryn, CA - American River CC)*
Connor Brennan (Sonoma, CA - City College of San Francisco)*
Half high school recruits, half junior college recruits; a blend that Illinois hopes will help bolster the line for years to come. Coach Beckman said in comments made on signing day that the addition of the three junior college players is beneficial not only from a talent standpoint, but also gives a dinged-up offensive line unit extra bodies for the spring. Fagan, a late pickup, gives Illinois an athletic tackle with experience and allows Illinois to redshirt a couple of the younger offensive tackle recruits. Zach Heath, who is considered the top junior college center in the country, adds to an interior offensive line that is searching for a nasty identity. Connor Brennan also provides experience and a mean streak on the inside and should join redshirt freshman Nick Allegretti in the mix on the interior.
The key recruit in this group is unquestionably Gabe Megginson. The highest-rated Illinois recruit in the Scout 300 (#122), Megginson was a cornerstone in this recruiting class and was instrumental in the commitments of several of the other recruits in the class. With offers from the entire Big Ten and more, Megginson made a statement by electing to stay home and play in Champaign. Indianapolis OT Adam Solomon may be one of the more underrated recruits in the class. Solomon is fundamentally sound and has the frame to grow into a bookend right tackle. Zeke Martin showed drastic improvement his senior year, especially after adding substantial weight to play at the strong-side position.