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Lovie Smith, Illinois gearing up for recruiting battle against Missouri

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Good morning. Welcome to the Orange Minute for Saturday, June 18.

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It appears that Lovie Smith is gearing up for his first real head-to-head recruiting battle as head coach of the Fighting Illini. According to Jeremy Werner, three-star defensive back Tony Adams (St. Louis, MO) is planning to visit both Illinois and Missouri sometime next week. Scout has pegged the 6-foot, 185-pound prospect as the No. 76 cornerback in the class-of-2017.

Adams received his first scholarship offer from Illinois after impressing the coaches at a local satellite camp. It didn't take long for the Tigers to amp up their pursuit, as Barry Odom's staff made their offer official the very next day. While this recruitment may not be the most important battle in the history of college football, I think it definitely carries a hidden significance for both sides.

The St. Louis football market is up for grabs now that the Rams have fled for Los Angeles. There's a huge opportunity for Illinois -- and Missouri -- to establish a renewed brand presence and expand the fan base. These two programs obviously don't face each other on the gridiron anymore, but concrete results aren't exactly required to achieve this goal.

Lovie Smith has stated that St. Louis will be one the main out-of-state areas that his coaching staff plans to recruit. Landing a string of local prospects in consecutive years could establish a small talent pipeline, which in turn may kickstart the process of converting fans. Winning a few more games will help, sure, but residents first need an actual reason to become emotionally invested in the program. Watching native sons make plays while wearing the Orange and Blue could go a long way, in my opinion.

St. Louis will never be a completely pro-Illini city, neither will it ever be a 100% Mizzou town. But with a new head coach at the helm, now is the time for Illinois to make their move and alter the perception -- and perhaps the secondary can improve while doing so.

Illinois Fighting Illini News

Kipper Nichols could be an X-Factor for Illini Hoops (TCR)

It's a bit unfair to expect anything major out of the 6-foot-6 forward in his first season, but I'm started to get excited about his potential. What are Illinois' weaknesses? The big ones are probably defense, athleticism, and just overall intangibles. What is Nichols bringing to the table? You guessed it -- defense, athleticism, and intangibles

Illinois basketball recruiting branching out in Florida (The News-Gazette)

Big men continue to be a growing priority for Illinois in prospective future classes. Fresh off offering 2019 Belleville West power forward E.J. Liddell on Wednesday, an offer was reportedly extended to Florida prep power forward Darius Days on Friday.

John Groce finally has good news on Illinois injury front (CSN Chicago)

Even though most of the names will be familiar, it will be a very different-looking Illini team in 2016-17 with the team at full strength. The holes at point guard and in the front court last season were caused with three would-be starters missing practically the entire season.

Cody Sedlock signs with Baltimore Orioles (Illinois Athletics)

The former Illinois starter signed a professional contract with the Baltimore Orioles and will forgo his final year of eligibility to join the team's minor league system, the Orioles announced Friday. Sedlock was drafted in the first round with the No. 27 overall pick and signed for the slot value of $2,097,200.