New Commit: Georgia quarterback Cordell Littlejohn gave a verbal commitment to join the Illini class of 2018 and kind of buried his own lead. Littlejohn was talked about as a high upside kid that transferred schools for his senior year and threw for a ridiculous 50 touchdowns as a junior, but his name wasn’t pumped as a potential commit and we didn’t hear about him taking visits. The fantastically named gunslinger also chose the first night of college football to make his Twitter announcement. Luckily for Lovie Smith, his timing on a crossing route is better than creating a buzzworthy verbal commitment.
Who did we beat? Tulane
First Take: Why so little interest? You’d figure a 6-4 quarterback with above-average athleticism and a solid resume of winning and production would be more highly sought after. But besides Illinois, Tulane is reportedly the only other school to offer Littlejohn a scholarship. On some recruiting sites he’s listed with big-time interest, but until a scholarship is formally offered, “interest” is just casual flirting. After seeing some of the lightly recruited kids now playing as freshmen at Illinois, this staff needs to get the benefit of the doubt.
Second Take: Illinois NEEDS Cordell Littlejohn. The quarterback situation in Champaign is dire. Chayce Crouch is a junior, and the next guy that could possibly pick up the reigns is Cam Thomas, who is best described as a toolsy project. Coran Taylor is committed but the rumor mill is atwitter with reports that he has work to do in the classroom before enrolling. And bringing in another toolsy project like Littlejohn increases the odds that someone pans out.
In summation: In comparing film, Littlejohn was the best second option from the remaining quarterbacks on the board. It’s not easy to recruit a second quarterback to a class, and getting an early commitment from Littlejohn will do wonders in severing that casual flirting from other programs.
The Apple of My Eye: I don’t anticipate this changing all year. Calvin Avery is the best recruit to commit to Lovie Smith, and after watching Bobby Roundtree this past weekend, that’s becoming more of a meaningful sentiment. Dreaming of that defensive line in a couple years could get me through some rough games scheduled for this Big Ten season.
The Steal: This has the potential to change, but after just one other commit, the steal of the class is still Kievan Myers. Illinois snuck up to beat some successful programs (Arizona, Baylor, Missouri, Texas Tech) for Myers, but even that collection doesn’t speak to the potential of this mammoth road-grader. This kid is just starting to absorb his athleticism and connect the neuron gaps throughout his frame and Illinois was smart to close the deal before he played out his senior season, especially with other stud teammates bringing in the blue bloods of college football. Oh, and Myers’ relationship with Illinois played a large part in getting a commitment from teammate Calvin Avery. (Side note: Illinois needs to keep recruiting these kids until the fax comes through the machine, or this article won’t age well.)
The Dream: A new Crootin’ Roundup deserves a new dream. And after breaking down the newest Illinois quarterback commitment and the quarterback pipeline for the next few years, what could be more fitting than dreaming of a quarterback commitment for 2019? Crouch will have just graduated, the Lovie Smith talent upgrades will be two years established, and in walks Isaiah Williams from Trinity Catholic in St. Louis (home of Larry Boyd). Williams is a 5-10 joystick in the mold of Antwaan Randle-El; he could step into Illinois immediately and give Lovie his electric poster child and give offensive coordinator Garrick Mcgee his Lamar Jackson. Of all the dreams to dream in recruiting, I’d be most confident in the Illini rebuild with Isaiah Williams in the fold. If you have not yet seen this kid, watch these highlights now. Live that dream with me.