With signing day in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to reflect on which schools made the biggest splash. I chronicled Northwestern, Illinois and Northern Illinois last week. Here is a roundup of some of the other schools in the Land of Lincoln:
Southern Illinois University Class of 2018 Grade: B-
Headliners: Take your pick between two very impressive Fox Valley Conference offensive linemen-- Jacobs guard Jimmy Wormsley or Cary-Grove tackle Brett Groves. Champaign Centennial’s big receiver Jaden Roberts-Thomas (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) could also become a potential difference maker in the Salukis’ passing game.
Takeaways: SIU inked 27 players to its Class of 2018 ledger, including six D-1 transfers and 20 high school recruits, with 10 out of the 20 high school signees from within Illinois. Head coach Nick Hill continues to make recruiting waves within the state, particularly in the southern part of Illinois.
Illinois State University Class of 2018 Grade: B-
Headliners: St. Charles East’s Clayton Isbell (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) played quarterback for the Saints but will play on the defensive side of the football for the Redbirds. Isbell has great size, length and athleticism and could wind up playing as a safety/outside linebacker or even at defensive end. Also, Guilford defensive back Julian Hainie (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) and Lemont wide receiver Austin Nagel (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) were highly productive players at the high school level and are names to watch here as well.
Takeaways: Illinois State added 30 names this signing period, combining scholarship and preferred walk-ons. The Redbirds also remained focused on in-state names, adding 12 new players from within Illinois. ISU fared well here despite having to add several new assistant coaches in the middle of the recruiting process. The overall depth of this class is impressive.
Western Illinois University Class of 2018 Grade: C+
Headliners: WIU was able to add a very strong group here. I really like Providence Catholic defensive back DeShon Gavin (6-foot-0, 180 pounds). Gavin, who played running back for the Celtics in 2017 has all the physical tools to challenge for early playing time. He could thrive in Macomb. Marian Catholic wide receiver Vick Akinyemi (6-foot-2, 210 pounds), physically, already looks like a college-ready player with big time athletic potential.
Takeaways: First year head coach Jared Elliott took over the football program late in the recruiting cycles after former head coach Charlie Fisher left for an assistant coaching job at Arizona State. Elliott was able to keep his the majority of his coaching staff in place along with his 2018 signing class. WIU also focused on in-state names (nine). The overall talent level with this group is pretty strong.
Eastern Illinois University Class of 2018 Grade: D
Headliners: Well...with just one in-state signee, Blue Island Eisenhower’s offensive tackle Rashawn Schandon (6-foot-7, 330 pounds), this is a pretty easy choice. Schandon will be a bit of a work in progress but has great size and better-than-you-think mobility for such a big kid.
Takeaways: EIU and head coach Kim Dameron have been able to win games despite growing financial concerns in Charleston. The same holds true for all in-state football programs. EIU wound up signing 16 names to the 2018 class-- a smaller than usual group. However, to have EIU sign just one in-state name? Undoubtedly, this is a concern and I'm sure it will be to addressed leading up to the next recruiting class.