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.