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.
After a surge of commitments to start June, Illinois football recruiting has gone a little quiet recently. But it had to.
An NCAA dead period started on June 27 and continues until July 10. College football coaches aren't able to meet face-to-face with recruits until after the dead period is lifted. So after a busy month that included several satellite camps across four states, the Illini staff took time over the past week or so to go on vacation and spend time with their families.
But July will be another hot recruiting month as the staff tries to get some of their priority targets on campus. A few top targets also plan to make decisions before the start of the high school football season -- which now is less than two months away.
So which recruits are trending toward and away from the Illini at the moment? Check out the latest 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
Illinois appears to be in the driver's seat for Tony Adams
after the St. Louis University High visited earlier this month. Adams, who lives in Belleville, Ill., grew up an Illini fan. Illinois was the first to offer. Both his parents also made the trip to Illinois. "It was pretty big," Adams said following his visit
. "My family loves Illinois. Going up there, I really liked it. I enjoyed it a lot. I learned something new about the coaches. I don't know. It could be home." Adams, who shined at the Illini's satellite camp at St. Louis last month, 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. This appears an Illinois-Mizzou battle. Adams plans a visit to Missouri later this month and said he'd be open to visiting any other power-five program who offers. Expect a decision in the next month or so.
Illinois has made Cincinnati offensive lineman Howard Watkins
a priority. He recently visited campus with his father and uncle. "Me, dad and my uncle sat in Coach Lovie Smith's office for an hour and hour and a half, not talking about football stuff but just about life," Watkins told Illini Inquirer
. "It was awesome with him possibly being my college coach. My dad and uncle really got a kick out of that." Illinois had made quite the impression, and Watkins plans a return visit to Illinois this month with his mother. It seems the Illini may be able to close the deal then. But the Illini have competition. Louisville also is recruiting Watkins hard, and hometown Cincinnati has developed a solid relationship too.
Illinois has done a great job with in-state defensive end Olalere Oladipo
. The Huntley product visited the Illinois campus again last month to watch his teammates participate in the Illini Showcase Camp. There, Oladipo spent a lot of one-on-one time with Lovie Smith. That's three visits to Illinois this spring for Oladipo. While Michigan State seemed like a big offer a few months ago, the Spartans look pretty booked at defensive end after receiving three DE commits in the last month. That's another positive for Illinois. The top competition seems like Indiana, Penn State, Minnesota and Maryland. Expect Oladipo to take a few more visits this month and to make a decision in the next month or so.
Last month, 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.
It's hard to imagine why Texas safety Josh Newman
didn't have any scholarship offers before the Illini offered last month after his strong performance at the UI's Dallas satellite camp. Newman is big, physical, plays for a Texas powerhouse and runs a 4.54 40-yard dash. Tulane and Iowa State also are interested, but Illinois looks like it identified an early sleeper. "Man it means everything," Newman told Illini Inquirer of the Illini offer
. "It makes me feel a lot for them because they were the first. I'm going to always have the first one to think about, and I love the coaching staff. Coach Lovie is doing a great job with his staff they're all really good guys and they know how to build relationships." Next up on the agenda is to get Newman on campus.
The Illini are looking to plant a recruiting flag in sometimes under-recruited Alabama, and athlete Jaylond Adams
would be a good start. Adams recently took an unofficial visit to Illinois and word is that he ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash. The Illini are looking for a speedy slot receiver and more speed in the secondary, and Adams would fit the bill for either. He's starting to gain more attention. Indiana has offered and Southern Miss is a program to watch.
Crete-Monee defensive tackle John Mitchell
took in two Illini satellite camps last month 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. "I mean, they want me," Mitchell told Illini Inquirer last month
. "Just basically that they'd love to have me on campus and love to have me on the team. I think it's good. I think they're really on the come up. The new coaching staff, I think that's a big plus." Right now, the Illini are one of just two power-five offers along with Syracuse.
The Illini made Marist linebacker Micah Awodiran
's top four
, along with Duke, Vanderbilt and Yale. Obviously, academics mean a lot to Awodiran, which makes this recruitment even more interesting. Vanderbilt has gained some recruiting momentum and Awodiran's family seemed pretty excited about his Duke offer given the strong academics there (and pretty good football lately). Illinois has made him a priority since Lovie Smith took over. He is exactly the kind of playmaker Smith wants in his defense. Illinois can sell the in-state angle (he's close with some commits and targets), familiarity (Awodiran's sister attends Illinois), Big Ten football and strong academics. Illinois is on a shorter list than the top-four for Awodiran, but campus visits this month could loom large.
Crete-Monee defensive back Juawan Treadwell has kept really quiet recently -- except for when he mistakenly thought Minnesota offered -- but Illinois (Treadwell's lone power-five offer) still appears to be his top suitor. Treadwell hasn't talked to reporters lately and hasn't taken many visits recently. But he did visit Illinois on the same April day that Ricky Smalling and Kendall Smith committed to Illinois. Smith spent several minutes one-on-one with Treadwell while the Illini defensive backs were going through drills. The Illini are prioritizing the athletic Treadwell and feel pretty confident right now. 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."
Miami (Fla.) Central defensive end Owen Carney
recently released a top-five schools list, which surprisingly included Illinois along with Miami, Duke, LSU and Kansas State. Carney has some major offers and is a really good power-five defensive line prospect -- the kind Ron Zook routinely plucked out of Florida. A visit to the UI campus would be a great sign for the Illini.
St. Thomas Aquinas running back Mike Epstein
-- who committed to previous Illini coach Bill Cubit -- visited Michigan a few months ago 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.
Yes, the Illini made the top-eight list
for St. Louis (Mo.) Trinity Catholic guard Larry Boyd
. The Illini even have a decent chance to make his top-five and receive an official visit before a possible Signing Day decision. But Oklahoma State and Missouri look like they have the early advantage. Still, Lovie Smith seems to have made a great impression, so a prolonged process could actually benefit Illinois.
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, and Wagner has remained interestingly quiet in recent months.
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 later this summer or fall 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, and Arkansas also recently offered.