Who's next to pop for Illini football? Illini Inquirer breaks down who's trending toward and away from Illinois in the latest edition of the Trending Meter.
Illinois football now has scored six commitments in the Class of 2017 and five -- all in-state prospects -- since Lovie Smith arrived on campus.
The Illini are off to a slower start than most of the Big Ten with 10 conference foes currently ranking in the top-31 of the way-too-early team recruiting rankings. Each of those programs currently has at least eight commitments. So, yes, the Illini are still playing catch up.
http://www.scout.com/college/illinois/story/1677924-five-standout-at-ill... But the Illini are starting to build a buzz, especially in state, after landing two receivers (four-star Ricky Smalling and three-star Kendall Smith) their quarterback (Cam Thomas), an offensive lineman (Vederian Lowe) and a linebacker (Marc Mondesir). The state is a bit dried up already, but the Illini still have a chance to build a good foundation in the Land of Lincoln with several key targets still on the board. If you're on commitment watch, most should focus on in-state or regional prospects since most long-distance prospects don't visit until official visit season starts in August -- though, of course, there are some exceptions.
The Illini definitely boosted recruiting in and out of state with eight satellite camps this month: three in state, one in Missouri, two in Texas and two in Florida.
So who will be the Illini's fifth commitment? Take a look at the June 2016 Illini Football Trending Meter.
In the fold
Players who have committed to Illinois since last update
Off the board
Players who have committed elsewhere since last update
This week, the Illini became the first power-five team to offer Tony Adams
after the St. Louis University High athlete shined at their St. Louis satellite camp. Adams is the kind of guy Illinois assistants will fight over with each wanting them in their room. He brings speed, a bit of physicality and a lot of versatility. He worked out at defensive back, receiver and running back at the Illini satellite camp and handled all of them well. Adams told IlliniInquirer.com
that the Illini offer is a "big step" for his recruitment. Expect a follow-up visit to campus very shortly. Adams also received an offer from Mizzou this week after another great performance at the Tigers' camp.
Another nice early offer for Illinois, Florida LB Diego Fagot
has great film. He has length, strength and range to cover a lot of ground. Pitt and Syracuse are his other power-five offers. The Illini hope to see the Ft. Lauderdale participate in their satellite camp in his hometown at St. Thomas Aquinas on June 18.
In-state defensive end Olalere Oladipo
is blowing up a bit, recently receiving offers from Michigan State and Penn State. But it seems two schools are recruiting him hardest: Illinois and Indiana. While Oladipo is still developing, he has the talent and work ethic to turn into the type of pass rusher Illinois sorely needs on its future depth charts. Oladipo visited Illinois on April 16 and visited with Lovie Smith for a long meeting where the Illini head coach made sure the Huntley product knew he was a priority. He stopped by Smith's office again last month when his family moved his sister, who attends Illinois, home for the summer. He visited again to watch teammates compete at the June 12 camp and spent a lot of time around Illinois coaches and commits. He plans to visit Indiana and Michigan State soon. The competition is stiff, but Illinois is on his very short list. This is the type of in-state recruitment Illinois needs to win if it is to take the next step as a program. Oladipo, who wants to make a decision this summer, told IlliniInquirer.com last month
, "Lovie's a really good guy. I wouldn't mind playing for him. He's a really good coach. I like what Illinois is doing."
Illinois is starting to build some in-state momentum, but Marist linebacker Micah Awodiran
would really give the Illini a boost. He is exactly the kind of playmaker Lovie Smith wants in his defense. That's why the Illini have made him a priority. Awodiran visited Illinois on April 16 and spent a lot of time chatting with fellow in-state defender Olalere Oladipo. Landing both of them would be a huge in-state boon for Illinois, and Awodiran seems to be close with several of the 2017 in-state prospects. Awodiran has a lot of other offers, including Mizzou, Indiana, Iowa State, Syracuse, Maryland, Minnesota and Kansas, but Illinois has entrenched itself on his short list. He told IlliniInquirer.com last month
that he plans a summer decision. "(Illinois) definitely have put themselves high on my list with this visit," he said. "I'll probably decide toward the end of summer. I want to have it all squared away so I can focus on going back to state with my brothers."
Crete-Monee defensive back Juawan Treadwell has kept quiet recently, but Illinois -- Treadwell's lone power-five offer -- appears to be his top suitor. Expect other programs, like Minnesota, to pick up interest. Treadwell visited on the same day Smalling and Smith committed to Illinois. Smith spent several minutes one-on-one with Treadwell while the Illini defensive backs were going through drills. The Illini, the only power five conference team to offer so far, are prioritizing the athletic Treadwell. Juawan attended the NFL Draft in April with his older brother, LaQuon, who was drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings. Lovie helped develop a few good defensive backs during his NFL days. They have a good sell.
The Illini are off to a great start at wide receiver in the Class of 2017, but they have taken a keen interest in Carmoni Green
. The 6-foot receiver has the speed to take the tops off defenses and enough height and athleticism to be a red-zone target. Florida has offered, but will they push as hard as Illinois -- one of his few other power-five offers? Illinois will hope to get him on a visit at some point. "Illinois is a great school," Green told Scout.com's Corey Bender last month
. "I enjoy talking to them and being recruited by those guys. That team is filled with a lot of great coaches that have winning attitudes, and that's we have in common. ...(Running backs) coach (Thad) Ward and I have a strong relationship, and we also talk everyday. They continue to tell me to work hard and handle business in the classroom first."
Crete-Monee defensive tackle John Mitchell
took in two Illini satellite camps last weekend on back-to-back days just to hang out and see the Illini staff. Mitchell said he currently doesn't plan any other visits this summer. The Illini staff would like to add Mitchell along the front line, where Illinois will likely add a handful of defensive line prospects. Right now, the Illini are one of just two power-five offers along with Syracuse.
Last month, the massive defensive tackle Juan Harris
surprisingly participated in the Illinois satellite camp at Chicago, received an Illini offer, decommitted from Iowa and released a top-seven that included Illinois. Lovie Smith
's staff has fallen for Harris as a player, which is easy to understand. Harris is huge but still very nimble on his feet. He has the natural talent to be a future pro. But some schools, including Iowa, have backed off him due to some perceived character red flags. But Smith seems to have done his homework and feels comfortable with Harris or at least thinks the talent is worth any perceived risk. The Illini likely will get an on-campus visit from Harris, who doesn't like to speak with reporters.
The Illini really want to improve their standing in St. Louis and Trinity Catholic guard Larry Boyd
would be a big-time get. But the 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman has some big offers, including Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas State and Minnesota. The Illini staff caught up with Boyd
at their St. Louis satellite camp this week, but the competition is stiff.
Rich Central defensive tackle Caylon May
's recruitment has been slow recently but expect things to heat up this summer. The previous Illinois staff gave him his first Big Ten offer and first power-five offer, but the new staff hasn't prioritized him -- yet. There are finite defensive linemen in the Midwest with May's blend of size and burst, so bigger offers seem inevitable. But he will have to work for them at camps this summer.
St. Thomas Aquinas running back Mike Epstein
-- who committed to previous Illini coach Bill Cubit -- recently visited Michigan and received an offer from West Virginia last month. But Illinois feels confident that they have a good chance to hold onto him. Epstein told IlliniInquirer.com this week
that he remains committed to Illinois but will continue to look at any options that come his way. Illinois will continue to recruit him hard, and Epstein seems attracted to playing for Smith.
Deerfield defender Joshua Maize
isn't a proven defensive lineman, but he sure is an intriguing one. The three-star prospect played linebacker last season and showed a nice blend of size, range and athleticism. He has the frame to grow into an edge rusher and looked like he had progressed with a hand at the ground at The Opening Regional in Chicago last month. Maize told IlliniInquirer.com this spring
that Illinois is his "dream school." He participated in the Illini satellite camp at Barrington this Saturday, but after a so-so day, he didn't receive an offer -- to his disappointment. Indiana did offer this month, and Maize plans a visit to Bloomington this weekend. He wants to end his recruitment soon, and the Hoosiers are in a great place.
While most are recruiting Peoria Central center Kendrick Green
as a center, the Illini want to get a look at him on the defensive line. Green isn't overly big at 6-foot-3, 270 pounds but he is a tactician with great footwork and leadership qualities. He's a tough call for power-five conference teams right now -- including Illinois. At least for right now, the Illini don't look like a match on the offensive line, where they want to get bigger and stronger. Minnesota offered Green on June 9 as a defensive lineman.
Hinsdale Central linebacker Dorion Pollard
is well-liked by the Illini staff. He's a tough, physical player with solid athleticism. But he's a bit of a 'tweener. He's built like a safety but plays like a linebacker. He could fit well as a weakside linebacker in Lovie's scheme, likely would excel on special teams and would be a positive culture guy. He recently received offers from Wyoming and Ball State and worked out for the Illini staff Friday at the Chicago satellite camp. But Pollard didn't run well, which probably will keep him from getting interest from most power-five teams.
Richmond-Burton offensive tackle Dalton Wagner
is simply a massive human being with good athleticism -- a big reason he's starting to blow up a bit. Arkansas is making a big push, and California, Indiana, Missouri, Louisville, Syracuse and Utah also have offered. The Illini have tried to work they're way into this recruitment with little success so far. This has turned into a national recruitment.
East St. Louis wide receiver Jeff Thomas
, the top uncommitted prospect in the state and a top-50 national recruit, is a game-changing talent who Illinois would love on the field. But Thomas cut his list to six last month
, and it doesn't include Illinois. He has some academic questions that may not only hurt Illinois but all the powers who have offered.
Illinois is in the top-six for Tennessee running back Chase Hayden
. They've recruited him well, and Lovie Smith was part of the staff that coached Hayden's father, Aaron, at Tennessee. The Illini hope to get a visit from Hayden this summer, which could help them immensely and turn this arrow. But Hayden admitted to IlliniInquirer.com last month
that Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina are the teams to beat.