Sorry for the delay in programming. I've spent the last week moving what seems to be every new veterinarian in Kansas out of their various houses/apartments/trailers and into vans. That left me a little too tired to comb through the old rosters. But Mark the Mover is retired (for a week), so I can write again. Which is neat.
2013 was the first true recruiting class of Tim Beckman's at Illinois. His staff was responsible for about half of the 2012 group. The class ranked 49th nationally, but only 8th in the conference (9th if you include Maryland like some sort of weirdo). This class hasn't accomplished much yet, but it would be a bit silly to assume much of what should be true freshmen and redshirts.
1- QB Aaron Bailey. The Bailer is the top Illini recruit to actually sign and play with the team in quite some time. He chose Illinois over many other schools on an impressive offer list because Beckman promised to play him at quarterback. And now Wes Lunt is here, likely starting over him. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Bailey now.
2- DE Paul James III. James was another player with an impressive offer list that chose the Illini, but academic issues caused him to be ineligible. Unlike the other dozen or so times this occurred with a top Illinois recruit, James actually came back to the Illini after regaining eligibility. He'll be a backup with a chance to play even more than that this fall.
3- ATH Caleb Day. Day was converted into a corner back and was thrown into the fray right away. Day will play most likely in the nickelback package.
4- CB Darius Mosely. Mosely played a bit more than Day, but is in the same basic situation as his classmate. Honestly, it's so much nicer knowing that the secondary isn't just a bunch of freshmen anymore.
5- DE Jarrod Clements. Judging solely off the top players in this class, in defense should be pretty good in the near future. Chunky will be in the rotation at defensive tackle, competing with Austin Teitsma, Teko Powell, and Joe Fotu.
6- S James Crawford. Crawford was converted to STAR, where he'll be buried on the depth chart until at least 2015.
7- DT Merrick Jackson. Merrick failed to qualify academically and currently plays for Iowa Western Community College.
8- S Dillan Cazley. After years of Ron Zook somehow ignoring the safety position and just assuming recruiting a great number of athletes would solve things, it's been nice to see that position completely change. Cazley was another one of the young bloods playing in the secondary last fall. He'll likely be a backup this year.
9- ATH Michael Hermosillo. Hermosillo wound up being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 28th round of the MLB Draft last June. He chose to pursue that dream instead. Maybe he'll wind up pulling a Bo Flowers.
10- TE Christian DiLauro. DiLauro redshirted and was converted into an offensive tackle. He's at least a year away from contributing, barring injuries ahead of him.
11- S Darwyn Kelly. Kelly redshirted last season and will be a backup safety this year.
12- OT Jesse Chadwell. Chadwell redshirted last fall and is a year or so away from contributing on the line.
13- DT Abe Cajuste. JUCO transfer buried on the depth chart.
14- WR Dionte Taylor. For whatever reason, a year of Taylor's eligibility was burned last season. Taylor should see the field in five receiver sets, and potentially four receiver ones as well.
15- TE Tyler White. White will be backing up Jon Davis and Matt LaCosse this fall. Seeing as he's also 6'6", it won't be surprising to see him get some red zone attention.
16- DE Dawuane Smoot. Smmot saw some time as the LEO last season and will be a backup for it again this fall.
17- RB Kendrick Foster. Foster redshirted last year, as there wasn't really any need to waste a year rotting behind Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young. He'll be doing the same this year, but at least with more experience.
18- OT Austin Schmidt. It looks like Schmidt will be the starting right tackle this fall, or at worst the key backup tackle.
19- OT Dallas Hinkhouse. The JUCO transfer has been converted to tight end, because you can never have too many monster tight ends. I can't imagine he'll be much of a receiving threat, but he's essentially a free extra lineman if needed.
20- DT Bryce Douglas. The saddest story of the class. Douglas had the size to dominate at nose tackle and came from my hometown, so I hoped for the best. A neck injury ended his career before it began. He'll be on a medical scholarship until graduation, which is at least a nice silver lining.
21- S Zane Petty. Another JUCO transfer in a class that desperately needed them. The starting free safety job is his to lose.
22- CB Jaylen Dunlap. Another true freshman defensive back. Fuzzy Dunlop will be a backup this season.
23- WR Marchie Murdock. Redshirted last season, buried on the depth chart.
24- WR Martize Barr. The JUCO transfer we all hoped would have the biggest impact last fall. Barr disappointed somewhat, only racking up 246 yards and one touchdown. Barr should have a much bigger season this fall.
25- S Eric Finney. A final JUCO transfer, converted to STAR. Should be a backup this fall.
In a welcome change, very few members of this recruiting class wound up not becoming Illini. Yeah, Paul James took an extra year to get here, but only Merrick Jackson failed to qualify and join the team. It's hard to fault Michael Hermosillo for choosing minor league baseball over college football and the Bryce Douglas injury is just the kind of thing that happens every so often. Consistent classes like this help avoid the massive depth issues that currently plague the program.