In last week's Weekly Stalker we went over the top football recruits from the state of Illinois in the 2014 class and how important it is for the Illini to start making a bigger dent in signing the state's top talent. One of those top in-state players would be Wheaton North quarterback Clayton Thorson.
Thorson currently has four stars from Rivals, and plenty of scholarship offers within the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and the MAC. Illinois is one of those offers, but listening to Thorson speak about his options, it doesn't sound like Illinois is really in the running.
"I'm still open, but I've been looking harder at Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan State," Thorson told the Chicago Tribune. "No question Northwestern and Iowa are there. Michigan State changes a bit now because I had a really good relationship with (offensive coordinator Dan) Roushar who left for the NFL (Saints). I'm going to need to build a new relationship with the coaches, including whoever is named the offensive coordinator.
"Having coach Roushar leave definitely puts Michigan State back in the pack a bit for now. I would also throw Penn State in with that group of schools."
So Thorson definitely has some Big Ten schools in mind, but as you noticed, none of them are Illinois. If there's any good news it's that Thorson also told GopherIllustrated.com that while he has his favorites, it's still early and things can change.
He also said that while he's not in a rush to make a decision he'd like to commit somewhere early in the summer because "so many quarterbacks commit early now and I wouldn't want to miss a chance to go to a school I want because someone else committed there."
Now, while it would certainly be nice to bring Thorson to Champaign, losing him to another Big Ten school wouldn't be a devastating blow. After all, if Aaron Bailey turns out to be the quarterback the coaching staff is hoping he'll be, there won't be much need for Thorson in Champaign the next few years.
Though I've always been of the opinion that you should have as much talent as possible on the roster even if you think you're already set at a position.
-- Just a note if you missed it updated in last week's Stalker, I talked about how tight end Blake Hance would likely get an offer from the Illini sooner rather than later, and about five minutes after the post was published it happened.
-- Leron Black is a five-star power forward from Memphis, Tennessee, and John Groce and company have been out to see him quite a few times lately. And apparently it's working as Jeff Borzello tweeted on Monday that the Illini are "gaining some traction" with Black, who currently has offers from schools like Baylor, Missouri, UConn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Getting five-stars from Illinois is awesome, but I'll gladly take one from Tennessee too.
-- Speaking of five-star prospects from the state of Illinois, while Curie power forward Cliff Alexander's coach, Mike Oliver, says he's being recruited hardest by Michigan State, the race is far from over. According to Oliver Illinois along with DePaul, Ohio State, Kentucky, Indiana and N.C. State are all "prominently involved." Watch DePaul win that race somehow.
-- Dewayne Hendrix is a four-star defensive end from O'Fallon -- which is where the Illini got Darius Mosely -- that I'm quite fond of, but while he has interest from Illinois he says he's talked more to Ole Miss and Tennessee lately. However, that's not keeping Hendrix from coming to Champaign for a junior day on March 9. Hendrix also says he's very close to Mosely, so hopefully Darius can do some recruiting of his own while Dewayne is in town.
-- The Illini gave an offer to outside linebacker Brandon Lee this week. The Indianapolis product now has eight offers, including Indiana, Purdue and Iowa. According to Lee he got the offer on Facebook from Mike Ward which kind of ticks me off because back in the day when I actually paid attention to my Facebook page the only offers I ever got were to play fucking Farmville.
-- Four-star athlete Dareian Watkins plans to make a decision as early as May about where he'll attend school in 2014. The Illini were the first school to offer Watkins, so it's no surprise that Illinois is one of the final schools he plans to visit before making his decision. As for the other finalists, well, I don't know. Watkins hasn't made the decision yet and he's got offers from 14 other schools.