Tim Beckman, along with athletic director Mike Thomas and John Groce, had a radio interview yesterday with 670 the Score in Chicago. All three were in town for an Illini Caravan event.
During the interview, Beckman said something that really struck me. He said that he doesn't worry about stars in recruiting. He doesn't care if a guy is a five-star or four-star recruit. What matters is if the guy they bring in is a scheme fit. Two-star or a five-star, Beckman is looking for guys who work in the schemes the Illini play.
He is totally right.
The focus on recruiting, at least from a media and fan perspective, has now shifted to how many stars a team has in its class. This is now how the rankings are formulated, and it makes sense. The amount of stars a player has is an indication of the amount of talent he possesses -- though, these rankings are often wrong. Johnny Manziel anyone? So the teams that bring in the most talent should did the best in recruiting, no?
In fact this is not always the case.
Recruiting talent is important, check that, essential to the success of a football team, but what can not be forgotten is scheme fit. Players that are brought in must fit the scheme. It doesn't matter how good a player is if he doesn't produce for your team. Recruiting is about bringing in production, not players, and the most talented players are not always the most productive.
That being the case, we as fans need to stop worrying about what star rankings each of our recruits and targets have, but what production they can bring to the Illini.
This doesn't mean we should ignore the talent of recruits being brought in. If two players fit the scheme, you obviously want the more talented player, and they will have a higher star ranking.
The Illini recently offered a scholarship to a five star recruit, who is open to Illinois, and this would be a tremendous get for the team. What we must focus on, though, is the production a top recruit can bring to the team, not simply that he is a top recruit.
The point is this, I'd rather bring in an army of two and three-star players who are great scheme fits and have potential, over 4 and 5 star players who aren't great fits for the program. The focus of recruiting in football needs to break away from the chains of star rankings, and look at what production a player brings to the team.
The Illini are never going to be a football team that brings in four and five-star recruits at a high volume. We will get one or two each season, but we will never bring in the talent that Ohio State or Michigan does. This does not mean we can't out recruit those teams.
Tim Beckman has adopted this strategy in recruiting and it's time we as fans accept this. We need to stop being slaves to the stars.