NCAA Talk

Illinois State in-state recruiting class recap

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USA TODAY

Illinois State in-state recruiting class recap

EDGY's Illinois State Redbirds Grade: B

Illinois State once again was able to build a strong overall recruiting class. Head coach Brock Spack has been able to turn around the Redbirds program in his tenure at ISU by being able to out-recruit his conference rivals. ISU needed to reload upfront on the offensive line after graduating its entire starting unit from a season ago. The Redbirds inked seven hogs, including the best name in college football in Kobe Buffalomeat, then also filled needs at wide receiver along with adding more depth to several spots with the Class of 2017. Illinois State also remained focused on in-state talent, as seven of its 23-player recruiting class call Illinois home.

Headliner Of The In-State Class?

Batavia offensive tackle Evan Day ( 6-foot-6, 290 pounds) might still be a few pounds shy of the listed 290 pounds for now, but I fully expect that to change. Day has tremendous length and reach and is an athletic kid who moves well. Once Day fully fills out his oversized frame he has a chance to become one of a handful of in-state names who will be expected to step in and fill some immediate holes on the ISU offensive line. I would not be stunned to see a few in-state freshmen offensive linemen get serious looks this August at cracking the starting lineup.

The One Who Got Away?

Illinois State was in the hunt for Naperville North three-star tight end Mitch Lewis (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) up until the last week of the recruiting period. Lewis, who is very close to his family, also has a special needs younger brother at home. Lewis gave staying closer to home and playing for the Redbirds serious consideration. Lewis didn't rule out the ISU Redbirds until after his last official visit to Miami of Ohio, which he signed with last Wednesday.

Final Thoughts on the Illinois State Redbirds Recruiting Efforts:

Illinois State is simply the "hot" in-state FCS level school to be a part of these days. Besides the overall improvement of the football program under Spack, the improved facilities, terrific location and just the whole Bloomington-Normal area has been a huge boost to ISU and it's recruiting efforts.

Issues? The skyrocketing cost has become a negative in recruiting circles for all FCS level schools in Illinois. Several neighboring states continue to drag students over in huge numbers across state lines by enticing Illinois residents with discounted tuition and other incentives. Fortunately for Illinois State, they have been less impacted by these issues, but for how long? Some Missouri Valley Conference rival out of state schools pay nearly $10,000 less a year than in-state kids pay for schools such as Illinois State. At the FCS level, where most recruits receive a portion of a "full" scholarship, the overall economic picture  begin to become a bigger factor.

Illinois State football and its recruiting efforts remain on the right path. While the football program still fights for center stage in the Illinois State sports landscape, the gap has narrowed towards the football program. The Class of 2017 again is another strong overall effort by ISU coaches and the Redbirds remain headed on course towards bigger and better things.

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

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AP

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

It looks like it was too good to be true.

Tyger Campbell shocked the recruiting world when he committed to DePaul on May 8.

Less than four months later, Campbell has reopened his recruitment.

The Rivals.com four-star point guard out of La Lumiere High School in Indiana, who is the No. 66 prospect in the 2018 Class, took to Twitter Friday night to explain his decision.

One of Campbell's original draws to the Blue Demons was DePaul hiring Shane Heirman as an assistant coach. Heirman coached Campbell for two seasons at La Lumiere.

"I like DePaul and honestly my coach (Shane Heirman) just went there and we have a great connection and he's always had my back," Campbell told Scout.com when he committed to the Blue Demons. "I like [DePaul] coach Dave Leitao, too. I like his program and he's an intelligent guy."

Campbell currently has offers from a handful of D1 schools, including Illinois, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Purdue, SMU, Memphis and Tennessee.

Upset alert? Why a confident UIC is challenging juggernaut Kentucky

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USA TODAY

Upset alert? Why a confident UIC is challenging juggernaut Kentucky

On the heels of a 12-win improvement, UIC basketball is riding confidently into the new season. 

And why shouldn't they be? Head coach Steve McClain returns a young, talented nucleus that's expected to challenge for a Horizon League championship and NCAA Tournament berth. 

In fact, the program is in such good shape that they thought: Let's play Kentucky. 

Yup, that's right. The UIC Flames will match up with the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on Nov. 26, a necessary stage in development, according to McClain. 

“Every year you build your program, there’s steps you have to take," McClain said. "When we got the opportunity to go to Kentucky, I think that’s the next level of exposure for our program.

"When you're chasing trying to be great, you gotta show your kids and show people what greatness looks like. I don't think anyone can argue what Kentucky has done, so I want to put our kids in that environment so they see what it is." 

The contrast between programs is severe. UIC hasn't made an NCAA Tournament since 2004. The Wildcats have made 11 since then. UIC has never advanced out of the first round at the Big Dance. Kentucky has eight National Championships. 

Even this upcoming season, as the Flames boast one of their most skilled teams in school history, none of them were ever touted like Kentucky's freshman class, which ranks No. 2 in the nation per ESPN. 

But the disparities in past successes don't seem to bother UIC. Instead, players, who were likely snubbed by bigger schools in recruitment, are excited about the opportunity to compete on a national stage that the Flames rarely see. 

“First I was like, ‘It’s about time we got someone like (Kentucky) on our schedule,’" said center Tai Odiase, one of the few seniors on the roster. "We’ve been trying to play bigger teams to showcase what we’re made of."

“I don’t see why you go into a place like that without a chip on your shoulder. You don’t go in there just to play basketball, we’re trying to win."

UIC will be heavy, heavy underdogs. There's no way around that. But there are certain spots where they may not be at such a disadvantage. 

On the defensive end, Odiase continued to terrorize guards and big men alike, finishing fifth in the NCAA with 2.9 blocks per game. The dynamic guard duo from "The Six," Godwin Boahen and Marcus Ottey, are quick enough to hang and both took a huge step down the stretch last season. Then there's the return of 2015-2016 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year Dikembe Dixson, who is recovering from a torn ACL.

"The doctors at times thought he was a freak of nature because he was back as quick as he was," McClain said.  

Still, it's a tune-up game for Kentucky, who also scheduled Kansas, UCLA and Louisville on their non-conference slate. But one team's expected walk through is another team's vital experience. 

"Our guys can walk in and see that on a given night, you can compete with anyone," McClain said. 

Given new athletic director Garrett Klassy's comments at his introductory press conference, it doesn't seem as if games like this are a one-hit wonder for UIC. 

“I am an aggressive scheduler," Klassy said. "I helped with the scheduling at George Washington. We’ll play anyone, anytime, anywhere.

"You want to measure yourself against the best. We have a lot of returning starters. It’ll be nice to go on the road, play a tough game and maybe sneak out an upset."