Breakdown: Class of 2023 Signing Day
Yeah...I gotta issue already- Right out of the rankings gate I have an issue with the Rivals experts. East St Louis senior 4 star ranked OT Miles McVay in my opinion has been the State of Illinois top recruit for well over a year. I'm sure the esteemed group of Rivals experts have some sort of reason for moving McVay out of the final top spot....but as far as I'm concerned I don't like it whatsoever. McVay has simply been one of the more impressive turnaround stories both on and off the field I've seen in years. McVay basically transformed his body over a four year period, competed and pushed himself year in and year out going across the country multiple times for various showcase camps (The Rivals Camps included). On the field McVay played against and across some of the top competition both individually and at the team level nationally (a knock heard yearly from those same experts regarding Illinois teams and how they falsely don't play "national level" competition). Set a high bar for this kid and he will just find a way to clear it....because that's all he's done for the past four years.
All I can tell you is that I've been watching, scouting, evaluating and covering Illinois High School Football for well over 30 years. I've seen Miles McVay live multiple times over the past four years both in live games and various camps. In short....Miles McVay is one of the best of the best and is my State of Illinois #1 ranked recruit in the Class of 2023.
By The Numbers: Total number of FBS level names from the State of Illinois who have signed Letters of Intent? (Source Rivals.com database)
2023 (so far): 61
I'm projecting the Class of 2023 in the State of Illinois to wind up having 62-65 names in total sign FBS level Letters of Intent by the end of the February recruiting period.
The FCS level? Again be very leery of the overall numbers for the FCS level and below and as mentioned above many of those FCS scholarship "offers"are in theory "partial scholarship offers". The FCS schools and below are allowed to "split" it's allowed NCAA scholarships (56 full scholarships limit per team in FCS/36 full scholarships per team in D2).
Let's face it....posting on Twitter that you are blessed to receive a "10-15% partial scholarship offer" from Mid Sized University just doesn't roll off the tongue as saying you have a "full" scholarship offer. Again be very leery of those allegded FCS lever "scholarship" offers.
So how does the State of Illinois Class of 2023 rank overall?
Welcome to the new Recruiting World.
Many of the same headlines and stories facing the Class of 2023 are in many ways the same issues that the Class of 2022 faced. Several key issues and factors including the boom of the Transfer Portal in particular has completely changed the entire landscape of football recruiting at all levels starting with the Power 5 level. A handful of years back before the creation of the transfer portal, high school prospect needed to compete against other high school prospects from across the country for a scholarship offer. Now that same high school prospects under the current transfer portal era?
Per one Big Ten assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, "Those same high school kids went from competing against each other for a scholarship. Now in the transfer portal era? Those same high school kids now have to compete against each other now and also against 19, 20 and 21 year old college guys with college experience already under their belts."
Beware of the March of the Walk Ons
So Wednesday will be a wonderful day, many players joined by their families from across the state will sign an early Letter of Intent and will secure athletic scholarships and grant in aid monies. Signing Day, whether early in December or at the traditional first Wednesday in February date (Wednesday February 1st). It's almost graduation day for football players and coaches alike. In my opinion outside of say graduation day, Signing Day is one of this really special days for high school football families.
All of the Power 5, FBS and FCS in state schools will be flooding social media all morning long updating it's fans and alums of which kids have official sent in their Letter of Intent. Those same schools will also hold mid-day press conferences report it's early signing classes. Many of those school's Signing Day list will include several names from in state high schools and those same coaches and programs will tout how important the in state high schools are and how they will continue to recruit them in this era of the transport portal.
Yet look a bit closer. Every school will tout the importance of in state kids. They will insist that they are 100 percent committed to recruiting high school as a priority.
Yet dig a little deeper.
The reality? Many of those listed as "signed"on Wednesday will actually be either preferred walk ons or just plain ole walk ons who will sign nothing but a blank piece of paper. The preferred walk on (receives no scholarship money but is given a roster spot) and a regular ole walk on (goes through the usual try out route to earn a roster spot) are used by college programs to add to it's roster depth. In some cases programs have very strong and very active walk on programs where kid can and will eventually earn a scholarship offer.
Yet be warned....the odds of this happening remain incredibly high. Yet in this current recruiting climate....this is a recruiting tool that will be used by more and more college and more and more families and prospects who are "looking to make the dream happen." It's not a great option....but it is an option.
So how can you tell if a prospect was actually a full scholarship player and one who is a preferred walk on? Well...you really can't in many cases. Most schools will merge its scholarship players and its walk ons into one signing day list. You can feel free to ask the head coach at any of the schools that question on Wednesday (I have in the past) and in short... good luck trying to get that answer. And I get why....and the last thing I want to be is a turd in the punch bowl on Signing Day....yet the reality is schools are getting more and more creative with its walk on programs and finding new ways to add depth while also spreading the athletic scholarship money around to a new source, now the ever popular transfer portal recruits.
The bottom line here is that we have more people fighting the same scholarship spots at all levels. This is not a good thing for high school football recruiting.
Will we have any Early Signing Day drama?
One name from the Land of Lincoln remains uncommitted and is set to sign his Letter of Intent today at 3:30PM.
Chicago Marist three star ranked DT Jamel Howard was committed to Wisconsin earlier this year, but has since decommited and according to most National Recruiting experts is expected to sign today with Michigan.
So what ended up being position of overall strength in the Class of 2023 in the State of Illinois?
Big Guys It took a few recruiting classes here in Illinois but the big guys have finally restored it's national reputation as Illinois being a must stop when looking for linemen. The offensive linemen position placed 6 out of the Top 20 recruits in the EDGYTIM Class of 2023 Final Top 20 rankings and 11 total out of the Top 50. The defensive linemen also fared much better in this class compared to a handful of down years. The defensive linemen placed 5 defensive linemen out of the Top 30 in the EDGYTIM Class of 2023 Final Top 50 rankings while also added a total of 7 out of the Top 50.
So which position ended up being down in the Class of 2023?
Running Backs. The running back position just didn't feature a ton of speedy backs who could become difference makers at the Power 5 and FBS level in my opinion. Sure, I have no doubt that running backs such as Bolingbrook Joshua Robinson (Illinois State) along with 4-5 other Land of Lincoln backs will do well at say the FCS level and become highly productive players. Yet from a high level ranking standpoint...this just wasn't a knockout group whatsoever.