There were a lot of recruits in town last weekend thanks to football's Junior Day camp and our basketball game against Michigan. One of the recruits checking out our little town was point guard Jaquan Lyle of Evansville, Indiana. Lyle is a five-star recruit in the 2014 class that is drawing a lot of attention, and he's currently ranked as the #16 prospect in the entire 2014 class by Rivals.
And he'd be a huge get for John Groce and the Illini, as there aren't many programs out there that couldn't use a 5-star point guard that checks in at 6'4 and 180 pounds. And we just happen to be one of the five schools recruiting him harder than anybody else.
"Florida, Illinois, Louisville, Ohio State and [Indiana]," Lyle told Rivals. "There are other schools on me, but those are the schools that have been on me the hardest right now. I'm going to just take my time and enjoy the process, but if I feel I need to cut down my list and the time is right, I will."
Obviously that's some nice company to be in, but it won't be easy to get Lyle. Still, you should expect that his name will be one you hear a lot about in the coming months as John Groce tries to bring him to Champaign.
-- While U-God already wrote the post on Paul James committing to the Illini, I'd like to expand on it because it really is good news for a football team that could certainly use good news. James is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals, but ESPN had him at 4 stars.
Either way, this is a kid that was not only committed to West Virginia and flipped to Illinois -- a welcome change of events -- but had offers from Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida State. Sure, he may have chosen Illinois because he has a better chance to play here earlier than he does at those schools, but who cares? He chose Illinois over Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida State. No matter the reason, this is never a bad thing. What's more amazing is that Joe Gilbert was largely responsible for recruiting James and James committed after Gilbert left for North Carolina.
-- As I mentioned earlier in the post, the Illini had a junior day in football last weekend and quite a few kids walked away with offers. Running back Matt Domer, 4-star cornerback Parrker Westphal, offensive lineman Eric Schute, defensive end Dylan Thompson and athlete Lonnie Johnson all received offers.
Of those recruits Westphal is likely the biggest prize, and the Illini may have some help in bringing him to Champaign. Westphal plays for Bolingbrook, where he is teammates with Aaron Bailey.
I'm also a fan of Lonnie Johnson, who is listed as an athlete but would play wide receiver here. He has a lot of work to do in his route-running, but he's fast, big and can get deep. The kind of guy that may not be highly-touted but could develop into something special with coaching.
-- One receiver to keep an eye on for the 2013 class would be Frankfort, Kentucky's Ryan Timmons. The 3-star receiver could be a perfect fit out of the slot in Bill Cubit's offense, as he plays in a similar offense in high school. Also, with Ohio State landing Corey Smith on Tuesday it takes away a possible destination for Timmons. So Ohio State's gain could be Illinois' as well.
-- Tim Beckman and his staff are also getting to work on the 2015 class. Rivals' Josh Heimholdt says Illinois is the Big Ten school that "has made the most noise with the class of 2015." Which is a good strategy for Beckman. Sure, most of us don't expect him to even be coaching the Illini in 2015, but he's going after the players that will get a lot of attention in the coming years.
Considering the competition he'll have for these guys, like Detroit running back Mike Weber, getting in the door early and being there from the beginning could be a boost to Illinois' chances to get these kids. And there's no harm in offering a kid.