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Illinois Football offers scholarship to three-star QB, FSU commit James Blackman

Good morning! Welcome to the Orange Minute for Tuesday, August 30.

Lovie Smith certainly isn’t afraid to pursue committed players, it appears. Illinois football offered a scholarship to three-star quarterback and Florida State commit James Blackman (FL) on Monday. The 6-foot-5 Glades Central product is rated as the No. 655 overall player in 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Blackman committed to the Seminoles on August 3; he’s the second quarterback committed to the program, which is apparently part of Jimbo Fisher’s plan for this recruiting cycle.

It’s interesting that Illinois is still scanning the high school ranks for help at the position. The Illini do need to add another quarterback now that Jimmy Fitzgerald has transferred, though opting for the JUCO/graduate transfer route would seem to make more sense. Doing so would allow three-star prospect Cameron Thomas (IL) to arrive in Champaign and sit out a year before taking over the offense in 2018.

Flipping Blackman doesn’t appear to be a likely outcome at this point in time, though, so there’s really no use in speculating about the dynamic of a multi-quarterback class. I just hope that Thomas is on board because upsetting one of your most important in-state commits may not be the best move in Year 1.

James Blackman Highlights


Illinois Fighting Illini Links

- Illinois Basketball withdraws from Paul Scruggs sweepstakes (TCR)

The Indy Star's Kyle Neddenriep reported on Monday that the two sides recently reached an understanding that was described as a, "tough conversation but a good one." Scruggs’ previously scheduled official visit to Champaign (September 4-6) has also been cancelled.

- By The Numbers: 2016 Illinois Football predictions (TCR)

Our staff collaborated to form a special preseason roundtable discussion to address a few important storylines. Topics are presented in over/under format, with each writer providing some sort of reasoning for their predictions. Enjoy!

- Mike Ditka says Illini are in good hands with Lovie Smith (WCIA)

"Lovie is a good coach and he's a good, good guy and I think it's his love," Ditka said. "The game of football is his love and I think he'll do great at Illinois...I think they’ve got a real chance."

- Lovie Smith: "There’s a lot of excitement" (The News-Gazette)

"Wes Lunt is our quarterback," Lovie Smith said Monday afternoon while trying not to break a grin in a direct reference to the oft-repeated phrase he used in his previous coaching life.

- Illini bet on Lovie Smith, a quiet ex-NFL coach (The New York Times)

Smith insists that so far, it has not been much different from what he grew accustomed to as coach of the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

- Charles Tillman inspires Illinois DB Jaylen Dunlap (The Sports Bank)

"It was a great experience, just to see what it takes to be a pro, and a few things he was telling me about technique and everything, technique is so important," said Dunlap, a Chicago native who played his prep ball at Crete-Monee high school.