EDGY's Fighting Illini grade: D
Needless to say, seeing Illinois sign two in-state names out of their list of 25 recruits was surprising. Illinois was expected to add at least 6-7 in-state names. However, a combination of decommitments along with having a handful of expected names that didn’t get past the Illinois admissions department narrowed down the in-state group even more than expected.
Headliner Of The In-State Class?
Lincoln-Way East offensive lineman Kurt Gavin (6-foot-4, 290 pounds). Gavin, ranked as a three star recruit by Rivals.com, is a technically sound linemen who has a chance to earn early playing time for the Illini. I feel he has the potential to become a long-term contributor for the Fighting Illini.
[RELATED - 2016 National Signing Day: Recruiting tracker]
The One Who Got Away?
East St. Louis three star-ranked offensive guard Trevour Simms was originally committed to the Fighting Illini. But in December, he made an official visit to Missouri and flipped his decision to the Tigers. Simms struggled with his final choice up until Tuesday and signed with Missouri on Wednesday. Despite Illinois adding East St. Louis safety Stanley Green to this signing class, Missouri has been able to secure a steady pipeline to top ranked East St. Louis players despite a ton of Illinois connections within and around the Flyers program.
Final Thoughts on the Fighting Illini's Recruiting Efforts:
It’s not easy being a Fighting Illini fan these days. I don't think anyone that has followed Illinois football or Fighting Illini sports in general should be surprised at the overall outcome in this class. With what seems to be a constant flow of negative headlines and issues, in-state players and parents haven't seen too many positives with Illinois athletics. One positive for Bill Cubit’s program is that the in-state 2016 class, from an overall talent standpoint, was also down. Illinois was able to finish much better with out of state recruits and they have already gotten off to a fast start for the Class of 2017 in-state class, having offered over 25 players. I'm hoping this will be the bottom of what will become a resurgence for the Illinois football program.
NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.
Head coach: John Rone
Assistant coaches: Andrew Porter, Ron Rivera, Chris Lewis, Ryan McGuire and Clint Connelly
How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Astros lost to Marmion Academy in opening round action.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 24 @ Leyden
Sept. 1 @ Stagg
Sept 7 vs Hillcrest
Sept. 14 vs Eisenhower
Sept. 21 @ Richards
Sept. 28 @ Oak Lawn
Oct. 5 vs Reavis
Oct. 12 vs Evergreen Park
Oct. 19 @ Argo
Biggest storyline: First-year head coach John Rone. Can the Astros challenge once again for the South Suburban Red conference title under a new head coach?
Names to watch this season: RB/LB Chris Harrison and TE/DE Kevin Graham
Biggest holes to fill: The Astros bring back 10 returning starters (five offense, five defense). Overall depth could also be a concern.
EDGY's Early Take: Shepard will be led by former Eisenhower assistant Rone, who was able to retain an experienced staff at Shepard. It will help ease the transition from former head coach Dominic Passolano this summer. If the Astros can get off to a good early start they have the overall talent to again make a state playoff appearance in 2018. Can they challenge conference power Richards in the South Suburban Red race?
Head coach: Bob Padjen
Assistant coaches: Trent Jensen, Jesse Kikkert, Jonathan Hill, Doug Smith, Mike Tisza, Rob Shell and Tim Russell
How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (3-3 South Suburban Blue Conference), T.F. South made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Rebels lost to Danville in opening round action.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 24 @ Thornwood
Sept. 1 vs Julian
Sept. 7 vs Oak Forest
Sept. 14 @ TF North
Sept. 21 vs Bremen
Sept. 28 @ Reavis
Oct. 5 vs Hillcrest
Oct. 12 @ Lemont
Oct. 19 @ Tinley Park
[MORE: 86 Days to Kickoff - Reavis]
Biggest storyline: T.F. South has advanced to the playoffs 20 times in the past 24 seasons. Can the Rebels get back to the IHSA state playoff field and make more noise this fall?
Names to watch this season: QB Kamron Clayton LB Michael Smith
Biggest holes to fill: The Rebels will need to replace seven starters on each side of the football this fall.
EDGY's Early Take: T.F. South head coach Bob Padjen was able to keep the Rebels on a winning path in his first season as Rebels head coach after several years serving in an assistant role. South always has talent. If the underclassmen can step up this summer, look for the Rebels to challenge for the top half of the South Suburban Blue conference race.