Marian Catholic quarterback Cam Thomas visited Illinois last week, where the Illini showed a lot of love. Illinois offensive coordinator Garrick McGee wants a dual-threat quarterback and the long, athletic Thomas fits the bill. He also appears to have a strong arm, but Illinois -- much like other Big Ten programs showing him interest -- want to see him throw in person before offering a scholarship. Regardless, Thomas is on the short list of the Illini's quarterback targets.
Alabama athlete Kadarius Toney was going to be my surprise name on this list. Illinois had been picking up interest of the dual-threat quarterback in recent weeks and offered on Thursday night. Toney is a top athlete with a strong arm. He's small but has great speed and devastating quick-cut ability. If he doesn't work out at quarterback, he could be a receiver. The Illini have a lot of work to do here, but the offer -- to play quarterback -- was a big step in the right direction.
Brother Rice wide receiver Ricky Smalling long has liked Illinois. He was a big fan of former Illini receivers coach Mike Bellamy, so the new staff has to win him over. But the new staff loves his film and has been in constant contact with him. Not only is Smalling a great player but he could be a bit of a pied piper. He's kind of the leader of the in-state group and could help the Illini wrangle some other top Illinois prospects. Watch Ryan Easterling's interview with Smalling. UPDATE (4/10/16): Smalling took an unofficial visit to Illinois on April 9.
Peoria Central center Kendrick Green doesn't have an offer yet, but the Illini staff is taking a liking to him and could be their center of choice. Green visited Illinois this week and got a tour from the recruiting staff but not have much interaction with the coaching staff. Other Big Ten programs have showed interest as well and he should draw offers during spring and summer camps. He told IlliniInquirer.com this week, "I think I could definitely see myself there (Illinois)."
Peoria Central wide receiver Jamir Whitelow visited Illinois with Kendrick Green this week, where the coaches told him he still has a scholarship offer. Whitelow and his family grew up Illini fans. Watch Ryan Easterling's interview with Whitelow. Needless to say, the Illini seem like they could close the deal soon if they want.
Crete-Monee defensive tackle John Mitchell is quickly becoming a priority for the new Illini staff along the front line. Right now, they are one of just two power-five offers along with Syracuse. More should be along the way, but Illinois has entrenched itself in this recruitment. UPDATE (4/10/16): Mitchell took an unofficial visit to Illinois on April 9.
St. Charles (Ill.) North offensive tackle Isaac Hawn has been on a whirlwind tour of campuses across the country. Illinois remains his best offer, but the new Illini staff wants to see Hawn in person first before confirming the offer as committable. Basically, they want to make sure Hawn is as big as his listing -- because they like his film. A campus visit could again turn the arrow up. UPDATE (4/10/16): Hawn took an unofficial visit to Illinois on April 9.
The Illini watched film of Huntley defensive end Olalere Oladipo and immediately identified him as one of their top defensive line targets. The Illini have kept in close contact with Oladipo. A week ago, this arrow would've pointed up. But then Penn State offered, and Oladipo is listening. Expect a lot of spring visits before a summer decision. Illinois is on the short list. But now Penn State undoubtedly is on that list too. UPDATE (4/10/16): Oladipo plans unofficial visits to Indiana (April 15) and Illinois (April 16).
Lemont tight end Logan Christopherson sports offers from four power-five programs: Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri and Syracuse. The Illini can make an impression on the three-star in-state prospect this weekend as they host Christopherson and his 7-on-7 team Midwest BOOM Football, including possible wide receiver target Owen Piche. UPDATE (4/10/16): Christopherson took an unofficial visit to Illinois on April 9.
Illinois recently offered Little Rock athlete Koilan Jackson as a quarterback. He is the brother of incoming Illini recruit Kenyon Jackson.and son of former NFL great Keith Jackson. The Illini are one of just two power-five offers, but the other -- Arkansas -- has made a big impression. Koilan's father is the color analyst for Arkansas football games. Jackson transferred high schools to focus on playing receiver and defensive back, positions he expects to play in college.
Illinois has been a major player for Neuqua Valley wideout/safety Isaiah Robertson for a while, but an even bigger player entered the race. Notre Dame last week extended an offer during a campus visit. Illinois made Robertson's list of six -- along with Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State and Vanderbilt -- but the competition seems stiff at this point. UPDATE (4/10/16): Robertson took an unofficial visit to Illinois on April 9.
Bolingbrook defensive end Izayah Green-May is blowing up. The 6-foot-6 defensive end is approaching 20 scholarship offers and just received the biggest: Michigan State. Word is that the Spartans are his dream school. The new Illini staff was hoping to get Green-May on campus to make sure he has the frame to play defensive end (he needs to add a lot of strength), but the Illini can't slow-play this. With the Michigan State offer, it may not matter.
St. Thomas Aquinas running back Mike Epstein still hasn't said to take away his designation as an "Illinois commit," but it's obvious that Epstein -- who committed to previous Illini coach Bill Cubit -- has an open recruitment. Lovie Smith's staff continues to recruit him, but Epstein recently visited Michigan and received an offer from West Virginia last month