Scout released their initial class-of-2018 rankings on Thursday, and top Fighting Illini target Houston Griffith (Chicago, IL) is the lone Illinois native in the Top-100. Griffith, the son of former Illini star and current Big Ten analyst Howard Griffith, checked in as the No. 83 overall prospect and No. 10 cornerback.
Griffith already boasts an incredible offer list. In addition to Illinois, the 6-foot defensive back has Power 5 scholarships from the following schools (alphabetical, notables in bold): Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Tennessee, Virginia.
Lovie Smith and the Illini will obviously have their work cut out for them, but expect them to be in contention for Griffith until Signing Day 2018. Hopefully they'll be able to capitalize on that family connection.
While Griffith was the only Illinois native in the Top-100, a few other players received initial four-star ratings. Offensive lineman Verdis Brown (Griffth's teammate at Mount Carmel) and Devin O'Rourke (Lincoln Way East) round out the upper echelon of in-state targets; both already have offers from the Fighting Illini.
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Two of Illinois' most important front court pieces are returning to the practice court. John Groce recently informed CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein that sophomore forward Leron Black (knee) has been cleared for full-contact drills. Additionally, senior center Mike Thorne Jr. (meniscus) has finally been given the green light to begin non-contact workouts.
Fighting Illini football received some more good recruiting news on Thursday. Former Iowa commit Juan Harris became the latest player to mention the Orange and Blue after trimming his list to seven Power 5 programs.
USA Baseball announced the coaching staff and evaluators for the 2016 17U National Team Development Program, including Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb. The program will take place July 18-22 in Chicago. It will be the second USA Baseball assignment for Hartleb, who served on the staff of the 2014 USA Baseball 14U National Team Development Program.