WR Reggie Roberson (Photo By: Ryan Easterling)

Decision Day Primer: Reggie Roberson

Long-time Illini priority target Reggie Roberson will make his college decision 6 p.m. Monday. What are the Illini's chances?

http://www.scout.com/player/205757-reggie-roberson/recruiting?year=2016&...

Going for Illinois

Relationships. Illinois has recruited Roberson longer and harder than any other school in his top-four (West Virginia, Utah and Washington State). Illinois assistant Andrew Hayes-Stoker has made Reggie Roberson a priority since last March, visiting Roberson's home more than any coach. It was the Illini's immense interest -- and an October official visit -- that seemed to prompt Roberson to decommit from Kansas.

http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1750270-roberson-... “Him and my mom and my dad probably talked more than I did,” Roberson told Illini Inquirer after one of Hayes-Stoker's December in-home visits. “They always talk, and they’re always communicating with each other. I talk to Coach Stoker a lot too. It’s a really good relationship.”

He also struck up a great relationship with Illini commit Ricky Smalling during his official visit, and Smalling actually visited Roberson during their winter breaks. The two actually went through workouts together. Illinois has a deeper, longer relationship than any school in the running -- and Roberson said in December that that meant something to him compared to schools just joint the fray.

“It really doesn’t impact me a lot because they weren’t there at the beginning,” Roberson said in December. “I feel like when that happens, they really didn’t believe in my talent at the beginning. I really like the schools that have offered me since I first started getting offers. It doesn’t really make a big difference (in my recruitment), but I’ll still hear them because I respect the coaches.”

Going against Illinois

Timing. If this recruitment ended in December, Illinois was the heavy favorite. Actually, Roberson said Illinois was the favorite. But he blew up during the last two months, earning offers from Oregon State, Washington State, Utah and West Virginia. Visits to the latter three prompted him to cancel a return trip and unofficial visit to Illinois on Jan. 20z

Washington State coach Mike Leach has an explosive offense to sell. Utah is selling the fact that its the alma mater of Steve Smith, Roberson's favorite player. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen just recently made Roberson a priority after the Mountaineers lost a commitment from Michael Harley Jr. (likely to Miami), but Holgorsen's offenses at Texas Tech and West Virginia have produced some proficient pro receivers, including Danny AmendolaMichael CrabtreeTavon Austin and Kevin White.

Another factor at play here is that West Virginia plays in the Big 12, which features four teams in Texas and two in nearby Oklahoma and two in not-so-far Kansas. Utah and Washington State are in the Pac-12, featuring mostly West Coast schools, while Illinois plays mostly northern Midwest programs (though Champaign's airport has daily direct flights to Dallas). So while Morgantown is quite a ways from Dallas, the Mountaineers also provide his family the best opportunities to see him play as often as possible.

Roberson enjoys getting recruited. That led him to fully continue the process despite an early commitment to Kansas.That led him to fully enjoy the process even when it seemed destined he'd go to Illinois. There's nothing wrong with that. He's waited to see what opportunities would come his way, and to his credit, he's earned a lot after a great senior season. But that certainly has slowed the Illini's momentum. The question is how much?

Confidence meter

Confidence in a commitment on a scale of 1-10: Five (5) -- Credit to Roberson. He's kept this one close to the vest. West Virginia has come on strong and seems to have real momentum, while Utah also has some substantial buzz. Illinois, not so much. Even the Illini staff hasn't expressing much confidence lately. The latest comment I got from them was, "We'll see, I suppose." Though on Monday morning, an Illini commit expressed great confidence in landing Roberson. I'm still leaving enough there that the long-term relationship has enough sway to stave off some sexy late suitors.

Commitment impact

Wide receiver didn't seem like a big need a month ago. Illinois had Ricky Smalling and Carmoni Green -- and still do -- and seemingly led for Jeff Thomas and Roberson. With Thomas likely committing to Miami (and quite likely playing at a junior college before going to any Division I program), Roberson would give the Illini the speedy playmaker it wants and needs in the slot. Once the ball touches his hands, Roberson is a threat to take it the distance due to his powerful boosters and plus agility. He also has enough height to play on the boundary and take the top of the defense. Oh, and he also is a very dangerous return man. With Smalling and Green on the outside and Roberson in the slot, this would be a potentially special, complete class of receivers. If Roberson goes elsewhere, the Illini may have a special slot receiver anyway -- if Mike Dudek stays healthy -- but would be searching for a slot guy in 2018.


Illini Inquirer Top Stories