After each Illinois football commitment, Illini Inquirer publisher Jeremy Werner will break down how the commitment impacts the recruiting class.
Cerny is the fourth offensive line commitment in the class, joining Kurt Gavin of Lincoln Way East, Tre'vour Simms of East St. Louis and Pennsylvania product Devon Robinson. The Illini had to make-shift the offensive linemen, filling depth holes with junior college prospects, for years. But adding this group to a 2015 prep O-line class of Gabe Megginson, Adam Solomon and Zeke Martin may finally allow the Illini to field an actual two-deep of high school prospects – that they grew (literally) and developed – in a few seasons.
With the high school and college seasons just weeks away, the Class of 2016 is coming together quickly for the Illini. Cerny was the ninth prospect to commit to Illinois since June 20. Expect Illinois to push for and land one or more commitments before they kick off their season on Sept. 4. Illinois will likely keep a few spots open with the hopes of ending the class with a splash after the season (assuming it wins), like it did last February with a late signing of four-star running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn.
Scouting report on Cerny
“Jake is a great technician. He was outstanding at The Opening Regional in Chicago. His high school coaches rave about him too in terms of intangibles. I think he's a bit of a guard-tackle 'tweener,' but gives you the option of either position. He's grown and improved a lot over the last two years that I've seen him and given his work ethic and intelligence, I think he will improve more. It would be hard for me to see him not starting at least 2-3 years in Champaign. I think a good handful of schools missed the boat on this one.”
– Allen Trieu, Scout.com Midwest Football Recruiting Manager
Class of 2016, so far
Illinois currently has 13 verbal commitments. The class -- which currently consists of one (1) four-star prospect and seven (7) three-star prospects -- ranks 53rd nationally in the Scout team rankings and 12th of 14 teams in the Big Ten. With a smaller quantity in this class, Illinois's class ranking is a bit limited. But it's average commit rating (2.69) also ranks 12th among Big Ten teams.
- Quarterback (1): Eli Peters
- Running back (1): Kentrail Moran
- Wide receiver (1): Dominic Thieman
- Tight end (1): Griffin Palmer
- Offensive line (4): Cerny, Gavin, Simms, Robinson
- Defensive line (3): Joshua Black, Antonio Shelton, Kenyon Jackson
- Linebacker: none
- Defensive back (2): Drake Spears, Juwuane Parchman
- Specialist: none
Illinois is expected to sign 17-19 players, though that number may increase before Signing Day due to attrition
- Offensive line (2): The Illini still have two more scholarship spots slated for offensive linemen. The Illini still want quality though and don't want to reach too hard to fill a need. But expect them to add a minimum of at least one more offensive line prospect.
- Wide receiver (1): With the exception of star Mikey Dudek, take notice of the trend among recent Illinois wide receiver recruits: size. Class of 2014 receiver heights: 6-foot-3 (Geronimo Allison), 6-foot-3 (Tyrin Stone-Davis) and 6-foot-3 (Malik Turner). Freshman Sam Mays is 6-foot-4, and 2016 commit Dominic Thieman is 6-foot-2. The Illini would like to add another big, athletic target to the corps.
- Defensive line (1): The loss of Paul James III – who withdrew from the university last week – makes another strongside defensive end more of a priority. But standout defensive line prospects are hard to find and hard to land. Illinois might need to find another under-the-radar prospect, like Joshua Black, to develop.
- Defensive back (1): The Illini already have two spots slated for in-state safeties Drake Spears and Juwuane Parchman, but they'd like to add another versatile player, likely a cornerback, to complete their secondary slate for 2016.
- Specialist (1): Tim Beckman hasn't yet used a scholarship on a kicker or punter out of high school, but after last year's kicking struggles, the staff is ready to invest a spot in the right one.
Prospects to watch
- Tim Walton, Detroit Cass Tech linebacker: The 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker will make his college decision at halftime of his school's scrimmage on Sunday, Aug. 16. Illinois is the only power-five conference team to offer.
- Harry Ballard, Florissant (Mo.) McCluer North wide receiver: Just when his profile began to rise – Michigan showed interest – the 6-foot-2 receiver has gone quiet and basically shut down his recruitment. A decision is expected before the start of his high school season, and Illinois is in a strong position.
- Bryce Banks, Columbia (Mo.) Rock Ridge defensive back: The former Missouri commit made it official last week, announcing his decommitment from Mizzou. The Columbia (Mo.) native is looking to get a little further away from home and visited the Illini last week. The 6-foot-3 senior would add size and physicality at cornerback.
- Braxton Pickard, Edmond (Ok.) Memorial kicker: One of the nation's best kickers just received an offer from the Illini.