Illinois Recruiting Class Predictions

Signing Day is still a month and a half away, but there appears to be less and less mystery to what the Illinois class will look like. Already, 24 players have made their commitments public and at least three more could happen by mid-week. So how will it end up? Who are the last few the Illini could add? We take a look in an overview that is part prediction, part projection and part wild guess.

The best way to take a look is by position. And the best place to start is at quarterback.

QUARTERBACK -- Jacob Charest of Matthews, N.C. is a guy Illinois targeted from day one and really, really likes. He is coming and all parties are elated. The other prospect is Chris Harper of Wichita, who will decide on Monday. My hunch is they get Chris, who will be given a fair shot at quarterback. If that doesn't work out, the two parties could decide to make a position change together. If Harper goes elsewhere, I believe Illinois is done at quarterback. WHAT THEY WILL ADD -- one more only if Harper comes.

RUNNING BACK -- For the second year, Deries Hodge committed and for the second year, he won't make it to school. The two big, physical backs who will make it are Mikel Leshoure of Champaign and Jason Ford of Belleville. Leshoure will be in in January, Ford in the summer, and both could play their first year.

Still on the board is the outstanding Jamie Harper of Jacksonville. Harper was a long shot at one point, favoring southern schools Florida, Clemson and others. But recruiter Dan Disch has worked his magic and all of a sudden, the Illini are in it. All three schools have a real chance.

Also, and I have said this for awhile now, don't close the book yet on the electrifying Lamaar "Flash" Thomas out of the Washington D.C. area. He has committed to Ohio State, but that one isn't over. It's a longshot, maybe. But not over. WHAT THEY WILL ADD -- Would take both Harper and Flash if they committed.

WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END -- Probably done at tight end with Hubie Graham of Scranton, PA and London Davis of Cahokia. Turned away some good ones here. At wide receiver, they already have Fred Sykes of Tampa, Florida transfer Jarred Fayson and smooth as silk A.J. Jenkins of Jacksonville.

Heavily recruited Cordale Scott of Glendale, Ohio could announce this week and Illinois fans may like what he says. If he does, they have to make a decision about Kenny Tate of DeMatha in Maryland if he wants to come, too. Either way, it is a wide receiver recruiting haul to end all hauls. WHAT THEY WILL ADD -- If they get good news from Scott, that may end it. They could take Tate, as well, if he wanted to come.

OFFENSIVE LINE -- Four solid players, led by Graham Pocic of Lemont, could be what they take here. Tyler Sands or Boyertown, PA and Ryan Sedlacek of Westport, Conn. will join him and 325-pound Jeff Allen of Chicago may be the sleeper in the bunch. Zook, Locks, others really like him. WHAT THEY WILL ADD -- This could be it here.

DEFENSIVE LINE -- One tackle (Reggie Ellis of Washington, D.C.), two ends (Whitney Mercilus 0f Akron, Ohio and Glenn Foster of Chicago) and one player that could play either (Corey Liuget) make up a good haul here. They could add Rowell, Cordale Scott's teammate, or finish up here. WHAT THEY WILL ADD -- May be done, maybe one more guy.

LINEBACKER -- This is a real position of need. Four have committed (Justin Staples of Lakewood Ohio; Supo Sanni and Russell Ellington of Homewood and Nate Palmer of Chicago) but the Illini would love to add to this list. WHAT THEY WILL ADD -- They are really hoping for Will Compton and, just for kicks, probably will call Steve Filer again just to make sure.

DEFENSIVE BACK -- Cornerbacks Patrick Nixon of Jacksonville and Ashante Williams of Mayfield, Ohio are in, as are athlete Jack Ramsey of Chicago and hard-hitting safety Donsay Hardeman of Jacksonville. As it stands, Hardeman now will enter in June as his academic standing won't permit a January enrollment, which would allow him to participate in spring practice.

But Illinois isn't done here. Tavon Wilson of Washington, D.C. visited this past weekend and coaches really like him. He could commit soon. And they would love to have safety Okechukwu Okorolna of Maryland as well, although he may not be as far along as Wilson. WHAT THEY WILL ADD -- Both of those guys if they wanted to come.

SPECIALISTS -- Probably none. Three kickers and three punters already on the roster will compete for the jobs this spring.

SO HOW DO THEY GET THEM ALL IN? -- A few issues here. First, some players can enter in January and count against last year's unused total. Among them -- Jarred Fayson, Fred Sykes, Mikel Leshoure at least. Maybe one or two others. That still leaves 25 that can enroll in the summer.

And of the 25 or so you sign, the numbers don't count until you enroll in August. So if any of the group don't make grades or don't enter for any other reason, they don't count. In other words, attrition before ever arriving.

FINALLY, WHO DO I THINK THEY STILL WILL GET -- Ah yes, the most imporant question. And yes, I buried the lead.

My guess -- I think Cordale Scott, Tavon Wilson and Chris Harper all could commit this week. Wouldn't surprise me. I also think they will get Compton and Okorolna. That leaves a bit of a numbers crunch if any combination of Jamie Harper, Tate or Flash want to come. If that happens, here is what they will do:

Worry about it then.

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