Edgy Tim

EDGY Tim gives his thoughts on Lovie Smith and Illinois' 2018 In-State Recruiting Class


EDGY Tim gives his thoughts on Lovie Smith and Illinois' 2018 In-State Recruiting Class

EDGY's Fighting Illini grade: C-

Illinois and head coach Lovie Smith wound up signing 23 names to the Fighting Illini's Class of 2018 and that included just four in-state names (including Chicago resident and IMG Academy grad Verdis Brown).  According to the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings, the Illinois recruiting class is ranked by Rivals.com as the 50th best class in the nation and is also ranked 12 out of 14 teams in the Big Ten conference. While the Fighting Illini fell short on overall numbers of in-state names, they made strides in power states in such as Florida (10 names) along with California (four names) and Texas (four names). 

Headliner of the in-state class?

IMG Academy four star ranked offensive guard Verdis Brown (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) played his first three years at Chicago Mount Carmel before transferring to IMG Academy in Florida. Brown, who originally committed to Florida State, decommitted from the Seminoles after head coach Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M. Once Brown reopened his recruiting process, Illinois became Brown's leader and he really never wavered minus a late official visit to Missouri. Brown is physically a ready made player who will be given every opportunity to start as soon as this fall for the Fighting Illini. 

Illinois also was able to sign Peoria three star ranked QB Coran Taylor (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) along with three star ranked Althoff three-star ranked offensive tackle Jordyn Slaughter (6-foot-5, 290 pounds) plus Danville two-star ranked Julian Pearl (6-foot-7, 245 pounds). Danville K Caleb Griffin was also added along with Naperville North QB Drake Davis and WR Nick Calcagno plus Maine South WR Cam Stacy. 

The one who got away?

Illinois was an early leader for the state's top ranked recruit in Carterville four-star ranked tight end Lucas Ford (6-foot-7, 247 pounds) until Power 5 teams from across the nation found Ford and Carterville High School. Carter committed early to Arkansas but decommitted and reopened his recruiting in the fall. Illinois was named in Ford's final top schools list but decided to sign early in December with Georgia. 

Final thoughts on the Fighting Illini recruiting efforts:

This is the second recruiting class for head coach Lovie Smith and staff and at least from an in-state perspective, the draw and initial appeal of having a former Chicago Bears head coach has yet to truly pay off on the recruiting trail, in my opinion. The players that the Fighting Illini have added the past two recruiting classes have been solid including some potential difference makers in this 2018 class. Yet the higher ranked/high profile in-state names have for the most part have looked past Illinois the past two recruiting seasons. 

While the staff has continued to talk about the importance of starting its recruiting efforts first in Illinois and the greater St. Louis area, the overall results have shown that more work/effort and/or a new approach needs to be developed in the Fighting Illini's own backyard. Adding just one name North of I-80 for Illinois in the Class of 2018 must change. 

Credit the Illinois staff for already getting out early and extending scholarship offers in January to several top in-state Class of 2019 names. Hopefully this will be the beginning of stronger in-state efforts for the Fighting Illinois that will see better overall results on the home state recruiting trail. 

Who made the cut? Edgy Tim's final ranking of this year's recruits


Who made the cut? Edgy Tim's final ranking of this year's recruits

The Class of 2018 will continue to fill out with Wednesday's traditional National Letter of Intent signing day. 

In recent years, signing day generally presents lots of drama and last-minute surprises; however, this current class is (for the most part) signed, sealed and delivered.


An overwhelming majority of recruits in Illinois took advantage of the first ever NCAA-approved early signing period for football (Dec. 20-22) and just a handful of names in my Top 70 recruit ranking waited until today to make their decisions final. 

Below is my final Illinoiss Class of 2018 recruit rankings:

1. Luke Ford, TE, Carterville (Georgia)

2. Micah Jones, WR, Warren Township (Notre Dame)

3. Devin O'Rourke, DE, Lincoln-Way East (Northwestern)

4. Jack Sanborn, LB, Lake Zurich (Wisconsin)

5. Quincy Patterson, QB, Solorio (Va Tech)

6. Noah Shannon, DT, Oswego (Iowa)

7. Elijah Teague, DT, Marist (Minnesota)

8. Bryce Effner, OT, Metea Valley (Penn State)

9. Tyrik Henderson, DB, Glenbard North (Undecided)

10. Wyatt Blake, OG, Crystal Lake Central (Northwestern)

11. Ben Bryant, QB, Lyons Township (Cincinnati)

12. Mike O'Laughlin, TE, Fenwick (West Virginia)

13. Dashaun Mallory, DL, Bolingbrook (Undecided)

14. Jeff Jenkins, OG, Prairie Ridge (Iowa)

15. Charles Robinson, TE, Waubonsie Valley (NIU)

16. Coran Taylor, QB, Peoria (Illinois)

17. Brian Kaiser, TE, New Trier (Northwestern)

18. TJ Ivy, TE, Marist (Indiana)

19. Gavin McCabe, DL, Marist (Indiana)

20. Charlie Schmidt, OL, Libertyville (Northwestern)

21. Jayshon Jackson, WR, Simeon (Cincinnati)

22. Hunter Woodard, OL, Tuscola (Oklahoma State)

23. Jordyn Slaughter, OL, Althoff (Illinois)

24. Matt Bjorson, TE, Hinsdale Central (Indiana)

25. Nick Marozas, OL, Brother Rice (Indiana)

26. Marques Cox, OL, Peoria (NIU)

27. I'Shawn Stewart, WR, Bolingbrook (Undecided)

28. Samson Evans, ATH, Prairie Ridge (Iowa)

29. Nick Mangieri, TE, Dunlap (Northwestern)

30. Joe Bonds, LB, DeLaSalle (NIU)

31. Antwain Walker, DB, Oswego East (NIU)

32. Mario Wright, LB, Homewood-Flossmoor (W Ky.)

33. Justin Hall, ATH, Homewood-Flossmoor (NIU)

34. Alec Pierce, WR, Glenbard West (Cincinnati)

35. Isaiah Lee, DT, Nazareth Academy (Iowa State)

36. Marquis Burks, DE, Curie (Iowa Central CC)

37. Jaylan Alexander, LB, Hoffman Estates (Purdue)

38. Jack Sullivan, DE, Plainfield East (Purdue)

39. Julian Pearl, OL, Danville (Illinois)

40. Zaire Barnes, DB, Carmel (Western Michigan)

41. Terrance Taylor, DE, Phillips (Toledo)

42. Jayden Reed, WR, Naperville Central (Western Michigan)

43. Clayton Isbell, DB, St. Charles East (Illinois State)

44. Byron Perkins, DB, DeLaSalle (Purdue)

45. Mike DeHaan, DE, Andrew (NIU)

46. Alek Thomas, WR, Mount Carmel (TCU)

47. Mariano Sori-Marin, LB, Providence Catholic (Minnesota)

48. Nolan Eike, OL, Batavia (Central Michigan)

49. Eric Mooney, QB, Huntley (Northern Iowa)

50. Fotis Kokosioulis, RB, Maine South (NIU)

51. Leon Payne, WR, Simeon (NIU)

52. Jeremy Cooper, OL, Mount Carmel (Cincinnati)

53. Ryan Selig, LB, Lakes (Western Michigan)

54. Queneil Morrison, DT, Phillips (NIU)

55. Cortez Hogans, LB, Palatine (NIU)

56. Jeff Griffin, DL, Homewood-Flossmoor (NIU)

57. Jyran Mitchell, ATH, Rich Central (NIU)

58. Matthew Stuckey Jr., LB, Rich Central (Western Michigan)

59. Keonta Nixon, WR, Glenbard East (Central Michigan)

60. Marcellus Johnson, OL, Normal Community (Eastern Michigan)

61. Amir Brummett, ATH, Decatur MacArthur (NIU)

62. Will McCabe, DE, Fremd (Western Michigan)

63. Nick Calcagno, WR, Naperville North (Illinois preferred walk on)

64. Charlie Gross, OL, Loyola (Fordham)

65. Derric Lee, DB, Waubonsie Valley (Columbia)

66. Christian Perez, QB, East St. Louis (Navy)

67. Brendan Cooke, DE, Libertyville (North Dakota State)

68. Austin Glazier, OL, Fenwick (Fordham)

69. Jarell Anderson, RB, East St. Louis (Iowa Western CC)

70. Drake Davis, QB, Naperville North (Illinois preferred walk on)

1-on-1 with versatile D-1 recruit Devin Blakley

1-on-1 with versatile D-1 recruit Devin Blakley

Nazareth Academy junior Devin Blakley (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) was easily one of the best — and certainly most versatile — players in the state last season.

While Blakley has made his mark at the running back and defensive back positions, he is also a key contributor returning kicks on special teams. As a result, he has handful of D-1 offers and is searching for more this winter. 

I caught up with Blakley for a few minutes at last week’s EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase, powered by EFT Football Academy. 

Blakley recaps his strong 2017 junior season, his latest scholarship offers and overall recruiting status. He also states why his Roadrunner teammates will never forget “seven seconds” anytime soon.