Illinois started off the Class of 2019 with two top 100 commits with Marquez Beason and Isaiah Williams. Since then, they’ve picked up a few more commits including another from Trinity Catholic in St. Louis with Bryce Childress along with Griffin Moore a tight end from just up the road in Bloomington, Ill and Joseph Thompson a defensive back out of Phillips Academy in Chicago.
Illinois however did lose a recruiting battle to Minnesota for in-state four-star defensive end Jason Bargy, and were not included in Jihrel Brock’s top six (top running back in Illinois).
Losing out on the second and third highest rated recruits in the state shows that Illinois still has a long way to go in rebuilding their in-state recruiting, and also need to show recruits some promise before they are willing to join the Illini.
Illinois is in the running for a few more top recruits, most important of which may be Shammond Cooper out of Trinity.
Illinois Football 2019 Commits May 18
|Isaiah Williams||QB/Ath||5' 10"||170 lbs||St. Louis|
|Marquez Beason||WR/DB||5' 11"||173 lbs||Dallas|
|Bryce Childress||WR||5' 9"||159 lbs||St. Louis|
|Joseph Thompson||DB||5' 10"||160 lbs||Chicago|
|Griffin Moore||TE||6' 4"||225 lbs||Bloomington, Ill.|
|D'Ante Cox (Walk-on transfer)||WR||6' 1"||180 lbs||Rochester, Ill.|
Illinois added Dante Cox as a preferred walk-on this week. Cox comes from one of the best programs in the state, Rochester, who has won 7 of the last 8 state titles. He played one year of college football at Missouri Baptist and will have to sit out one season per NCAA rules.
Illinois is out of the race for Marcus Washington. The four-star wide receiver cut his list down to six schools and didn’t include Illinois. While hiring Patterson did give Illinois a leg up in recruiting his former players, they were never going to get all of them, and Washington especially didn’t show much interest in the Illini at any point.
Washington told SB Nation’s Bud Elliot that Illinois needs to show something, “They have to win some games and send some people to the league. The NFL is everything. It’s my goal. I have to go to a school that’s going to get me there.”
If Illinois was only able to get one more top level recruit in this class, you would want it to be Cooper. Illinois desperately needs linebackers, and Cooper is the type of player who can step right in and start as a true freshman and develop into a very steady presence on defense for the Illini.
He was recently named a Pro Football Hall of Fame All-American.
Proud to be selected as an Pro Football Hall Of Fame All-American pic.twitter.com/qpkr1z4urh— Shammond Cooper ⁷ (@Shammond07) May 16, 2018
Cooper has a great relationship with his ex-High School coach Cory Patterson.
From youth coach to Highschool to college coach in just years, it was a blessing to ever have him as my coach. He made a kid from STL dreams come true and for that I can never repay him... Congrats coach @coachpatterTCHS The movement is still moving and it's not gone stop— Shammond Cooper ⁷ (@Shammond07) January 19, 2018
However, Illinois is competing with leading elite level programs like Clemson and Oklahoma for Cooper. Oklahoma needs linebackers, and going to a school like Oklahoma would give Cooper a fantastic shot at make at least one College Football Playoff in his three or four years of college football. That’s something that Illinois cannot offer.
However, Illinois is very much still in contention for Cooper due to Cory Patterson. Cooper told Bud Elliot that he does need to see some potential from the Illini. “They gotta be somewhat decent, where we can go somewhere and change things around. I don’t want to go to a program that’s dead, can’t get out the water. I have to see improvement, but I see potential,” Shammond Cooper said. “They have to have a decent season, win like five games, show some potential against the big teams like Ohio State. I don’t want to see them getting 60-balled. I’d give it a 50-50 chance that Illinois sweeps all of us.”
This will be a tough sell for Illinois, but if they are able to convince Cooper that Illinois can and will improve, there is a chance they can beat out the blue-bloods for his services.
Just let us have this one, please.
Henry is starting to get noticed by the entire nation lately. The three-star offensive lineman recently picked up offers from Michigan and Alabama to go along with offers from Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Oklahoma among others. He’ll have a tough time cutting down his list, which he announced he will do on June 1st.
Top Schools coming June 1st— Ira Henry7️⃣8️⃣ (@IraHenry8) May 15, 2018
Despite offers from some of the elite programs in the country, I would be surprised to not see Illinois on this list. It will be tough to compete with Oklahoma and Alabama for his final signature however.
Billingsley is a four-star TE out of Chicago, and the fourth ranked player in the state. Illinois has made a strong impression on Billingsely as seen in his promo video for the Opening Regional Finals in Ohio.
Billingsley also showed up to an Under Armour event sporting Illini gear.
A top seven he released in March included Illinois, but now it appears to be more of a top 8 with Auburn making a recent push.
Signs are looking good, but it’s tough to predict how tight ends will be used in Rod Smith’s spread scheme. They weren’t highly used under Rich Rodriguez’ offenses that Smith worked with, and Illinois already has a young promising TE in rising sophomore Louis Dorsey.
As previously said, it’s tough for Illinois to compete for recruits with the elite programs in college football, but these are the type of battles the Illini need to win occasionally if the program is going to turn itself around.
Illinois recently made the top eight for the three-star running back out of St. Louis’ St. John Vianney. Illinois needs running backs, and after missing out on Jihrel Brock Williams appears to be the top target.
Mom, You’ve made this whole thing possible you sacrificed everything to get me to this point in my life I can’t thank you enough I am forever grateful for you ❤️— Kyren Williams (@Kyrensiren) May 13, 2018
Top 8, Official Commitment date coming soon. pic.twitter.com/n91xT35Fxr
Yet again you see some of the blue-blood programs pop up with Notre Dame and Michigan.
McCray is a three-star WR from Phillips Academy in Chicago — same school as Jahleel Billingsley and current Illini commit Joseph Thompson — and is one of the top WRs in Illinois.
Illinois were one of the first Big Ten programs to give him an offer, though others are involved as well. He recently took his third trip down to Champaign. Illinois looks to be the leaders right now, and it would be disappointing if Illinois didn’t close this.
Rouse is a three-star OT out of Washington, D.C. who picked up an offer from Illinois yesterday.
Rouse has a huge offer list including many ACC, and Big Ten schools to go along with Stanford. I wouldn’t be too optimistic about this one.
Illinois offered another DC prospect yesterday, three-star linebacker Hunter Stewart.
Blessed to receive a offer from the University of Illinois pic.twitter.com/iPe9GNnHT7— Hunter Stewart (@Stewart__13) May 17, 2018
Right now it’s looking like any linebacker will have a great shot at significant game time in 2020 just by being on the roster, so this recruitment could develop further for Illinois.
Seeing Illinois in contention for recruits that are drawing interest from top programs is a welcome sight to see for sure. Having top 100 recruits Marquez Beason and Isaiah Williams already committed does help.
The #Littyville movement is still churning along, but Illinois will need to show something more than what it did in 2017 on the field to be able to keep the momentum going.