Out goes Bill Cubit. In comes Lovie Smith.
How have in-state recruits for the upcoming 2017 class reacted to the coaching change at Illinois? So far, pretty positive.
"All I can say is that (hiring Smith) is a huge positive for Illinois," said Neuqua Valley four star athlete Isaiah Robertson.
Barrington junior defensive end Jackson Perkins added, " I really liked Coach (Bill) Cubit. Illinois was my second offer and my first Big Ten offer. It's good to see Illinois hire Coach Smith, and I'd love to play for him. It's a great hire for Illinois."
Bolingbrook three star-wide receiver Kendall Smith (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) was also surprised by the move but is also excited to see Smith take over at Illinois.
"I was surprised that Illinois made the coaching change and fired head coach Bill Cubit," Smith said. "It's pretty exciting to see Coach Lovie Smith now at Illinois."
In other news, Brother Rice junior three star wide receiver Ricky Smalling (6-foot-1, 189 pounds) was one of several top Land of Lincoln names who made a visit to Indiana.
"Indiana was really nice," Smalling said. "I like the offense that Indiana runs and they put up a ton of points last year. I was able to see all of the athletic facilities and I also like just getting to talk to the coaches at Indiana and get a better feeling for those guys."
Smalling, who is now touting a dozen scholarship offers as we approach the spring evaluation period, is not in any hurry to make a college decision.
"I don't have a time frame yet. I still need to get out and see some schools in person. I just want to make more visits and get a better idea about more of the schools, especially the schools who have already offered me."
Deerfield junior defensive end recruit Josh Maize (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) has seen his recruiting stock take off heading into the spring. Maize, who played inside linebacker last season for coach Steve Winiecki’s Warriors, has offers from Central Michigan, New Mexico and Wyoming.
Several Power 5 schools are also beginning to take notice. Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue and Notre Dame have all been in touch with Maize over the past few weeks.
Neuqua Valley junior athlete Owen Piche (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) is another tall, athletic and talented name who has also seen his recruiting stock rise over the past few weeks. Piche has now added offers from Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Illinois State and New Mexico. Expect more to follow in the coming months. Piche, who played receiver and safety for the coach Bill Ellinghaus’ Wildcats last season, is drawing offers and looks at a number of positions.
"Cincinnati offered me as an athlete recruit," Piche said. "They feel that I can end up playing at a few different spots at the college level. I could play for them as a receiver, tight end, safety of even at linebacker. Most college coaches want to see where I'm at physically in a year or so to see which position I can end up playing in college."