The Class of 2017 recruiting season is off and running as several schools have already begun to extend verbal scholarship offers.
Bill Cubit and the University of Illinois are off to a quick start, having extended verbal scholarship offers to at least 25 in-state prospects. Illinois was able to ink just two in-state names in the Class of 2016. They have made it known to recruits that a priority will be made on local talent going forward.
"Illinois made it pretty clear to me that they want to keep a lot of in-state kids at home," Bolingbrook junior wide receiver Kendall Smith (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) said after adding an offer from the Fighting Illini. "When they offered they told me that this is ‘our state and our team’ and want to keep as many of us in-state as possible."
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Several Mid-American Conference schools have also extended multiple offers to local athletes.
Miami (OH) and head coach Chuck Martin’s staff was one of the first MAC schools to extend several early scholarship offers to the upcoming class. The Redhawks, who added four Land of Lincoln names to its 2016 signing class, have also extended over 20 verbal scholarship offers to in-state athletes. Also Buffalo, Bowling Green, Toledo, Central Michigan and Western Michigan have all been very active in Illinois this winter.
Illinois State, led by coach Brock Spack, is another program that is off and running for the 2017 class. The Redbirds hosted several top names last week for a “Junior Day” event. They extended nearly a dozen early scholarship offers. Several FCS-level teams have been a bit more reserved when it comes to offering kids this early, not wanting to tip off either bigger level BCS schools or their own FCS-level rivals. That said, the Redbirds have fared well overall by offering kids early scholarship offers on the recruiting trail the past few seasons.
Bolingbrook junior three-star defensive end Izayah Green-May (6-foot-6, 205 pounds) is easily one of the hottest names, not just in Illinois, but the entire Midwest over the past month. Green-May has a dozen scholarship offers since late January, with his most recent offer coming Tuesday night from Northern Illinois. Green-May has also added offers from Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Virginia and Cincinnati. Several other major Power 5 conference coaches are all taking notice of Green-May.
West Aurora three-star senior safety Drake Spears Jr. (6-foot-1, 215 pounds), who decommitted from Illinois in mid-January and failed to sign a Letter of Intent on Signing Day, ended his recruiting process over the weekend after making an official visit to Western Michigan. Spears Jr, who is a full NCAA academic qualifier could wind up becoming an impact performer for Western Michigan and head coach P.J. Fleck.
Speaking of potential steals, Eastern Illinois head coach Kim Dameron added a late signee in Morgan Park senior three-star inside linebacker Sean Williams (6-foot-2, 225 pounds). Williams, who had offers from a half dozen MAC schools, was also on the recruiting radar of a handful of Big Ten schools leading up to Signing Day.