The end of one of the most turbulent months in recent Illinois football recruiting is almost over.
During the past few weeks, the Illini have lost a handful of prospects due to decommitments and academic casualties, and almost one-eighth of the active roster has transferred out. Meanwhile, the Illini also have added 10 commitments in the past 16 days and the staff hosted more than a hundred juniors and underclassmen for Sunday's Junior Day event.
The revamped staff -- with four new assistants -- likely is exhausted, but there still is work to do before they can wrap up the Class of 2016. The Illini still have a few needs to address. They'll use the remaining scholarships (about four) on a combination of wide receiver, linebacker, running back, offensive line, defensive line and defensive back.
Who's trending toward and away from the Illini? Check out the latest Illini Inquirer Trending Meter!
Recently dropped from list
- Ayo Shogbonyo, LB: Committed to Illini on Jan. 31
- Tadarryl Marshall, ATH
- David Montgomery, RB
- Rashad Weaver, DE
- Sadarius Hutcherson, DE
- Evan Fairs, WR: Commited to Kansas on Jan. 31
- M.J. McGriff, WR: Committed to Illini on Jan. 30
- Jordan Carmouche, LB: Committed to SMU on Jan. 28
- Stewart Reese, OL: Cancelled visit to Illinois on Jan. 28
- Darta Lee, OL: Committed on Jan. 25
- Andrew Trainer, TE: Committed on Jan. 25
- Antonio Shelton, DL: Decommitted on Jan. 25
- Tim Walton, LB: Decommitted on Jan. 25
- Erik Swenson, OT: Committed to Oklahoma on Jan. 30
- KaDerrion Mason, DE
Pampano Beach (Fla.) Blanche Ely receiver Thomas Geddis holds more than a dozen offers -- including Cincinnati, Utah State and Toledo -- but he visited Illinois this weekend and seemed to enjoy his time. He is a speedy, long strider but needs to add strength and physicality to go across the middle. The Illini will take one more receiver and can sell the three-star the opportunity to play Big Ten football. With Evan Fairs off the board to Kansas, Geddis is the Illini's top priority at the position.
UPDATE: Eddy Fish committed to Illini (Feb. 1). Groton (Ma.) offensive tackle Eddy Fish committed to Boston College in December and visited BC last week. But he visited Illinois last weekend and seemed blown away. The Illini have added some interior depth in this class but would like to add some help at tackle as well. Fish has the frame and strength to play tackle but needs help with his technique and footwork. Fish told Illini Inquirer that he is "very close to flipping." Sounds like the Illini will receive some good news soon.
Leeds (Ala.) running back Tre Nation has been on the Illini's radar for a while, but they stepped up their efforts in recent days. Why? American Heritage (Fla.) running back Devin Singletary may be an academics casualty, and the Illini would like to add at least one running back due to depth. Nation -- a burly, short-yardage runner -- is a bit different than Singletary, a more elusive, perimeter back. But the Illini could use a short-yardage back to complement the rest of the offensive weapons. Despite a three-star ranking, it sounds as if Nation had no real leader entering Signing Day Week. Then the Illini offered. Illinois has a really good chance to get a quality back very late in the process.
Miami (Fla.) Coral Reef safety Harvey Clayton Jr. left the Illini campus on Saturday following an official visit and immediately traveled to Middle Tennessee for an official visit. Expect a decision in the coming days. The Illini have immediate playing time to sell at safety. Temple, Louisville and Middle Tennessee have also offered. Following Drake Spears' decommitment -- academics were the issue -- Illinois needs another defensive back. Clayton has already made his decision and will announce on Signing Day. The Illini feel like they're in a good spot, but could the lack of stability sway Clayton to consider a lower-level program?
Ekton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy linebacker Dele' Harding visited Rutgers on Jan. 22, and the Scarlet Knights were hoping to close the deal. But he left campus without a public commitment, and he visited Illinois last weekend. Word is the visit went well with the Illini seeling even more playing time following senior starter T.J. Neal's defection. Meanwhile, Rutgers received their fourth commitment from a 2016 linebacker. The Illini sold Harding -- who has previously held offers from Tennessee, Michigan and USC -- as a shot to be the starting strongside linebacker from Day One. Harding would be a big-time get at a big-time position for Illinois. The decision comes down to whether Harding liked the Illini's pitch or if his family wants him to stay closer to home.
With most of the top defensive line targets falling off and the 2017 DL depth chart looking like a horror movie, Illinois desperately needs to land a solid DL prospect or two. Olney (Md.) defensive end Izon Pulley was the biggest surprise addition to the final weekend visitor list and would fill the need. The former Miami commit received an Illini offer this month. New Illinois assistant Paul Williams, a former Miami assistant, recruits the East Coast and knows plenty about Pulley. UConn and Boston College appear to be the top competition. There isn't much buzz on this one.
Arlington (Texas) defensive tackle Myles Adams has been committed to Rice since August, but the Illini interest is making him think twice. It's a great sign for the Illini that Adams took a visit days before Signing Day. After Antonio Shelton's decommitment -- he's now committed to Penn State -- the Illini need defensive line depth in the worst way. Adams is a bit small (6-foot-2, 265 pounds), which certainly has kept other power-five conference teams away. But he has a great burst off the line and plus athleticism -- a fit for the three technique -- to go with a solid core of strength to build on. He also plays with a nasty streak. He'll need a season to bulk up. But at this point, he would be a solid get at a position of great need for Illinois. With his high school teammate and great friend Ayo Shogbonyo committed, word is that Adams is sold on Illinois but that his family may want him to stay closer to home.
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, wrapped up an official visit to Illinois on Thursday and visited Louisville for 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, but the competiton is stiff. Oklahoma State has a commitment already, and the Cowboys have a winning program to sell.
We've taken off the label of "soft commit" for Orlando (Fla.) The First Academy defensive end Tre Johnson. He took an official visit to East Carolina, which did not please the Illini staff. He also has some academic issues that could keep him from enrollment at Illinois. Meanwhile, Miami is coming hard for the 6-foot-6 strongside defensive end and hosted him last weekend. The Hurricanes appear to be frontrunners, though East Carolina still might have a chance too. Regardless, it sounds like his road to the Illini has closed.
Montvale (N.J.) defensive tackle Ibn Foster visited Illinois this weekend. He doesn't yet have an Illinois offer or any power-five offers. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound nose tackle is massive but is raw and doesn't have much athleticism. He'll need to cut some baby fat and tone up in a college weight program, but he projects as a solid run-stuffing nose tackle. He may be the backup option to Myles Adams.
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 has a great chance. He has a great relationship with the staff, especially Mike Bellamy. Word is that Simms has been on the Illinois campus a few times in recent weeks, a good sign for the Illini. But he has a lot of people in his ear. Simms might provide the Illini with the best chance at a Signing Day splash.