After each Illinois football commitment, Illini Inquirer publisher Jeremy Werner will break down how the commitment impacts the recruiting class.
The Illinois football class has expanded quickly the past six weeks. When he gave his verbal commitment at his high school team's scrimmage on Sunday, Detroit Cass Tech linebacker Tim Walton, who could play linebacker or the pass-rushing LEO spot, became the 10th prospect to verbally commit to the Illini since June 20.
Beyond Blessed to say that i have officially committed to continue playing football @ The University of Illinois #FightingIllini.
— Tim Walton (@__Walt2x) August 16, 2015
With the high school and college seasons just weeks away, the Class of 2016 is coming together quickly for the Illini. This appears to be more of a redshirt-and-grow class for Illinois, built more around linemen than skill players. And with newfound depth in the program, Illinois should be able to be patient with this class -- though the defensive linemen need to be ready to contribute by their second years in the program.
This isn't a splash class -- not yet. But Illinois is further along quantity-wise than it was at this point last year. The staff has set a foundation and hopes a winning season will give them the momentum to end the class with a splash or two just before Signing Day, just like it did last season when it landed four-star running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn.
Scouting report on Tim Walton
“There are several good linebacker prospects in Michigan and one scout who came through told me he thought Walton was the best of all of them in space. He's a stocky kid. With his build, there is some thought he could rush the passer off the edge in some situations. You did see Cass Tech do that with him a lot last year. He gives you some options because he can play MIKE, SAM or project as an end in my opinion. I think how his body grows will determine that, but he comes forward, he's great on the blitz and he's a smart kid who thinks the game.”
– Allen Trieu, Scout.com Midwest Football Recruiting Manager
Class of 2016, so far
Illinois currently has 14 verbal commitments. The class -- which currently consists of one (1) four-star prospect and eight (8) three-star prospects -- ranks 51st nationally in the Scout team rankings and 12th of 14 teams in the Big Ten. The Illini's average commit rating (2.71) 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): Jake Cerny, Kurt Gavin, Tre'Vour Simms, Devon Robinson
- Defensive line (3): Joshua Black, Antonio Shelton, Kenyon Jackson
- Linebacker (1): Walton
- Defensive back (2): Drake Spears, Juwuane Parchman
- Specialist: none
With the departures of a few players recently, a few scholarship spots may be added to the Class of 2016. What was thought to be a Class of 17 or 18 prospects likely will grow past 20 now. That number may increase before Signing Day due to attrition
- Offensive line (1-2): 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 might need to add another JUCO 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 -- though it's not a necessity given their current depth of young talent. Also, Illinois hopes to bring back Florida prospect Trenard Davis, who was dismissed from the university before his freshman fall camp due to academics.
- Defensive line (1-2): The loss of Paul James III – who withdrew from the university last week – makes another strongside defensive end more of a priority, though Illinois could shift a LEO to defensive end (like Dawuane Smoot) and add another defensive tackle. But standout defensive line prospects are hard to find and hard to land. Illinois might need to find another under-the-radar prospect, like the other guys in this class, to develop. With no returning strongside defensive ends -- current LEO Dawuane Smoot will likely switch to SDE next season -- the Illini likely will add another JUCO prospect too.
- Linebacker (1): Walton could play inside linebacker or the pass-rushing LEO spot, depending on how his frame fills out. The Illini are leading for McKeesport (Pa.) linebacker Tymar Sutton, who plays for the same high school as current starting linebacker T.J. Neal.
- 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 lanky cornerback to complete their secondary slate for 2016.
- Specialist (maybe 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. Read Alex Golesh's comments about offering a scholarship to a specialist here.
Prospects to watch
- Tymar Sutton, McKeesport (Pa.) Area High linebacker: The 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker lists Illinois as his leader.
- Brandon Jones, Columbia (Mo.) Hickman defensive end: The 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end visited Illinois during Saturday's scrimmage. Illinois -- which needs length and depth at defensive end -- is Jones' only power-five conference offer.
- Ken McLaurin, Denton (Texas) Ryan defensive tackle: The Illini continue to go after more Lone State state prospects. While Illinois already has two defensive tackles committed, the staff probably would take another one if it's the right one (can't have enough BCS defensive linemen). The 6-foot-2, 285-pound defensive tackle might have more offers coming soon but currently only has offers from two power-five teams: Iowa State and Illinois.
- Bryce Banks, Columbia (Mo.) Rock Ridge defensive back: The former Missouri commit is looking to get a little further away from home and visited the Illini this month. He seemed to really like Illinois. A decision was expected before the season but he has gone quiet recently. The 6-foot-3 senior would add great size and physicality at cornerback.
- Kenneth Ruff, Dillard (Fla.) linebacker/defensive end: Clemson and South Carolina are pursuing the three-star defender, but Illinois is also still in play. Some pursuers want to play him at defensive end, but word is that he wants to play linebacker -- and Illinois would slot him there.
- 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. Illinois is in strong position for this very, very talented playmaker -- though he must get his academics in order.
- Braxton Pickard, Edmond (Ok.) Memorial kicker: One of the nation's best kickers just received an offer from the Illini.