Trending Meter: Illini to take some big swings in final official visit weekend

The Illini are hosting some big visitors on the final official visit weekend. Can they close strong? Who's trending toward the Illini and away from the Illini? Get the latest from Illini Inquirer publisher Jeremy Werner.

When Bill Cubit was named head football coach, one of his edicts was to welcome competition in recruiting. The Illini coach doesn't want to hit guaranteed singles against mid-major competition early in the game when he can win those battles in the ninth inning. Cubit would rather take some big cuts against some power arms. 

Sure, he may strike out. But as long as he still has a few at bats left, he's going to take a few big hacks. The Illini will take some big cuts before Wednesday's Signing Day, including a few weekend visitors with big offers.

Who's trending to and away from the Illini heading into the final official visit weekend?

Recently dropped from list


We've labeled Orlando (Fla.) The First Academy defensive end Tre Johnson as an Illinois "soft commit" for a few weeks, since he took an official visit to East Carolina. There were some academic issues but Illinois was still trying to sign Johnson in this class. But word is that Miami is coming hard for the 6-foot-6 strongside defensive end. A flip would weaken an already weak position of the future for the Illini.

Announcement Date: Unknown


Groton (Ma.) offensive tackle Eddy Fish committed to Boston College in December and visited BC last week. But he is scheduled to visit Illinois this weekend. The Illini have added some interior depth in this class but would like to add some help at tackle as well. He has the frame and strength to play tackle but needs help with his technique and footwork. The buzz is that the Illini have a legit shot.

Announcement Date: Unknown


If the Illini want to get bigger and stronger up front -- or just scarier looking off the bus -- Shane Richards certainly would help. The 6-foot-7, 310-pound New Mexico Military Institute sophomore is a mountain of a man, and by far the most intriguing junior college offensive lineman the Illini have pursued in recent years due to his Big Ten-ready size and strength. Richards committed to Oklahoma State during an official visit on Jan. 15, but it appears more of a reservation as he takes more visits. He visited Buffalo on Jan. 22 and will visit Illinois starting Wednesday and stay through Thursday before heading to Louisville over the weekend. The Illini can sell him on the opportunity to compete right away for a starting guard spot with Gabe Megginson and Nick Allegretti.

Announcement Date: Unknown


Pampano Beach (Fla.) Blanche Ely receiver Thomas Geddis holds more than a dozen offers -- including Cincinnati, Utah State and Toledo -- but he will visit Illinois this weekend. The Illini can sell the three-star the opportunity to play Big Ten football.

Announcement Date: Unknown


Texas wide receiver Evan Fairs visited the Illini on Jan. 15, calling the trip "better than expected." He's down to two choices -- Illinois and Kansas -- and plans to visit the Jayhawks this weekend before making a Signing Day Decision. Fairs, recently upgraded to a three star by Scout, has told us previously that he sees himself as a Big Ten player. Illini wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy was scheduled to visit Fairs this week. But Kansas will get the last swing at him.

Announcement Date: National Signing Day


The Illini need more "quick-twitch" athletes who can take the top off the defense and make defenders miss. Though short, M.J. McGriff has that type of burst. He took an official visit to Ball State last weekend, but he will visit the Illini this weekend. As his best big-time offer, Illinois has a great chance at McGriff and likely will seal the deal this weekend.

Announcement Date: Likely during or following his official visit


Cooper City (Fla.) defensive end Rashad Weaver officially parted ways with Michigan on Monday after Harbaugh allegedly told Weaver he may not have a spot in the class unless he take a preferred walk-on spot or went to a prep school. The Illini offered Weaver and have been recruiting Weaver for weeks. Waver visited USF last week and Temple appears to be a possibility. Illinois hasn't yet locked up a campus visit, and Weaver recently received offers from Iowa State, Toledo, UCF, Hawaii, East Carolina and Kansas. Others showing interest include Kentucky, Arkansas, Indiana, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Virginia, Minnesota, UNLV and Duke. Needless to say, that's a lot of competition given Illinois' situation.

Announcement Date: Unknown


With Mason likely off the board and Weaver seemingly a longshot, the Illini are bringing in South Carolina commit Sadarius Hutcherson for an official visit this weekend. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Huntingdon (Tenn.) product has a frame similar to former Illini Jihad Ward and would be a great fit in new defensive coordinator Mike Phair's defense.

Announcement Date: Unknown


Ekton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy linebacker Dele' Harding visited Rutgers last weekend, and the Scarlet Knights are the frontrunner. But he left campus without a public commitment, and he will visit Illinois this weekend. That's a win for the Illini, who can now sell even more playing time following senior starter T.J. Neal's defection. Harding, who has previously held offers from Tennessee, Michigan and USC, would be a big-time get at a big-time position for Illinois.

Announcement Date: Unknown


Leeds (Ala.) athlete Tadarryl Marshall is scheduled to visit Illinois this weekend. Marshall could play cornerback, safety and wide receiver -- all positions of need for Illinois. Marshall has held some big-time offers (Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Missouri and Georgia Tech). He recently visited Arizona and Kentucky. The Illini will get a swing at him this weekend.

Announcement Date: Signing Day


Miami (Fla.) Coral Reef safety Harvey Clayton Jr. is scheduled to visit Illinois from Thursday through Saturday. The Illini have immediate playing time to sell at safety. Temple, Louisville and Middle Tennessee have also offered.

Announcement Date: Unknown


Cincinnati (Ohio) Mt. Healthy running back David Montgomery recently received an offer from the Illini and will visit this weekend. He recently visited Iowa State and Marshall. The Cyclones enter the weekend as the leader, but the Illini get the chance to sway him. Recently, the word was that Illinois would rather add another receiver than a running back, so it's unclear whether Illinois wants to add Montgomery as a 2016 recruit or a grayshirt.

Announcement Date: Signing Day


East St. Louis guard Tre'Vour Simms has flip-flopped between Illinois and Missouri for the past month. The Illini continue to recruit him hard, as an entire staff, every day. Simms' feelings about where he wants to go appears to depend on the day. Sources say he and his family lean toward the Illini but his high school coaches and  teammates pull him toward Missouri. He's given the Illini great vibes throughout the process. If Simms makes a personal decision, Illinois sits in well. He has a great relationship with the staff, especially Mike Bellamy. But he has a lot of people in his ear.

Announcement Date: Signing Day.


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