The class of 2004 is balanced with 12 players from the defensive side of the ball, 10 from the offense and two special teams players. The Illinois coaching staff built this edition with a base of six linemen, five defensive backs, three linebackers, three wide receivers, two running backs, two quarterbacks, two specialists and one tight end. All 24 signees come from the high school ranks.
"I am really excited about the group we have signed this year," Turner said. "Our coaching staff has always done a tremendous job of building a foundation of trust with our high school coaches and this year that trust was tested during a very difficult time. But, that foundation withstood that test and what resulted was a very talented group of young men with great character. These signees believe in our coaches and players we have here and ultimately in the future success of this program.
"We have signed 24 players that meet needs in the program as well as improve our athleticism," Turner said. "I think we have landed two very special quarterbacks in Billy Garza and Kisan Flakes. To have a successful program at the national level, you need top-caliber quarterbacks and we believe those two fit that mold."
Among this year's signees are two Top-100 athletes, two other All-Americans and 11 additional all-region selections, according to various recruiting publications. Illinois signed Tom Lemming Top-100 selections in running back Brock Bolen (Springboro, Ohio/Valley View) and wide receiver Bryant Creamer (Chicago, Ill./Simeon). Sam Carson (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove South) and tight end JR Kraemer (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) earned All-America honors by SuperPrep and PrepStar. Bolen becomes the third Illinois recruit to graduate early from high school to attend Illinois for the spring semester. He is currently enrolled in classes and will complete spring practices with the squad.
The 2004 class features 10 athletes from the state of Illinois, including six from the Chicago area. The Illini broke into Georgia, signing three from the Peach State, after not having a Georgia-native in a recruiting class since 1983. This season's class of athletes represent 10 different states, including California, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas.
Story courtesy of U of I SID Office