In his 2013 recruiting class Tim Beckman was not afraid to go after junior college players, and for good reason. As was painfully evident to anybody who watched the Illini play football last season, this was a team that had serious depth issues. Finding junior college transfers is a much quicker way to add some depth to a young football team than bringing in strictly freshmen.
By the time the ink was dry on all the letters of intent the Illini had five juco players as part of the 2013 class.
Now, using junior college players can be a quick fix, or it can be something done regularly to help keep a program moving. While Illinois has had its share of junior college players in the past, it's been sporadic at best with a player here and there. Nothing like what we saw this year or see from Bill Snyder at Kansas State every year.
What I've been wondering is if Beckman plans on continuing to use the juco ranks as a way to keep the program moving forward, and while this certainly doesn't answer that question conclusively, the Illini were the first school to offer juco wide receiver Eric Lauderdale.
Lauderdale is going to be a highly-sought after junior college player in the 2014 recruiting class, so I don't know that the Illini have a real chance of getting him. Still, being the first in the door with an offer is always a plus, especially when schools like Ohio State, Florida, Miami and Wisconsin are all interested in the 6'1 receiver.
Still, whether we land Lauderdale or not isn't the point here -- though I'll gladly take him, as he's the kind of big receiver we're a little light on at the moment -- it's the fact that the Illini are once again going after a juco prospect.
Of course, it could just be that the Illini are going after him because he's one of the best juco prospects available and at a particular position of need. It will be interesting to see whether or not Lauderdale will be the last juco prospect to get an offer.