Breakdown: Early Signing Day
So how does the State of Illinois Class of 2019 rank overall? Ehhh. The overall numbers from the Class of 2019 aren't very promising, at least from a FBS perspective. So far the Class of 2019 in the State of Illinois has inked just 62 early National Letters of Intent after Wednesday's initial opening of the early signing period. Overall that would make the Class of 2019 the lowest numbers of FBS signee's in the over 15 years. If I was asked to give the Class of 2019 in the State of Illinois a letter grade? At best this class would be a C letter grade. While the Top 10-15 or so names are very solid FBS players from a talent level standpoint (and generally this is always the case) you can make some very strong arguments on placing kids ranked 16 to say 30 in any other order and I would have a hard time arguing with you. Spots 30 thru 50 could also be very interchangeable plus another 10-20 spots not making the Top 50 could all argue and be in the Top 50 rankings mix. Lots of solid players in the Top 50 but also I don't see a ton of huge difference makers at the FBS level and this is going to be a good FCS/D2 class.
Total number of FBS level names from the State of Illinois who signed Letters of Intent? (Source Rivals.com database)
2019: 62 *** early signing period numbers only
I'm expecting the Class of 2019 to wind up have say 65-69 names total sign FBS Letters of Intent by the end of the recruiting period.
So what about the FCS level and below?
The Class of 2019 is going to wind up being a strong FCS class. Anywhere on average roughly 50 to 60 percent of all FCS programs had signed players to letters of Intent on Wednesday, so lots of recruiting action is still ongoing for the FCS level and below. On Wednesday, the State of Illinois had 30 recruits sign Letters of Intent for the FCS level, which is up from a total of 24 names from the 2018 Class. The biggest question that remains to be answered is will more State of Illinois kid be extended FCS level offers after the early period?
So what ended up being positions of overall strength in the Class of 2019 in the State of Illinois?
Offensive Line/Linebacker and also Wide Receiver and Defensive Back. The offensive line position has been a calling card for the State of Illinois in the recruiting world for decades, and while the overall number of FBS level names is down this state is still drawing plenty of attention upfront. The linebacker strength in this class was a nice surprise and this was easily the highest amount of FBS names we've seen inked in many years.
So which positions ended up being down in the Class of 2019?
Quarterback/Kickers and Tight End. Quarterbacks have no question continued to get a rough ride when it comes to signing at the FBS level from the State of Illinois. For all of the hype all year long regarding quarterbacks and development...just having one name sign FBS level Letters on Intent (Naperville Central QB Payton Thorne to Michigan State) is not a positive sign at all. Kickers also are always given a rough ride and in most cases end up on rosters as Preferred Walk On's. Tight End? Again if you happen to be an athletic 6-foot-4, 225 pounder who has some athleticism, can run a bit and catch the football please who plays basketball...consider playing football. Many opportunity awaits for you at one of the bigger positions of need as a tight end.
Had a Good Day on Wednesday...
Minnesota- Former Kaneland/NIU WR and Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck added two Top 5 names from the Land of Lincoln in #4 ranked Washington OT JJ Guedet and #5 ranked St. Charles North ATH Tyler Nubin. That's results the Gophers will take year in and year out.
Iowa- The Hawkeyes always have a strong presence in Illinois and also came away with four strong players, three of which could play tight end for the Hawkeyes. #6 ranked Orion TE Logan Lee is a headliner for Iowa along with #7 ranked Oak Lawn Richards S Sebastian Castro plus Dunlap TE Josiah Miamen plus Highland TE Sam LaPorta.
Michigan State- The Spartans have been a steady player in Illinois for years and while this class doesn't have the beef of some recent classes upfront, the three skills names are strong in Bolingbrook RB Anthony Williams Jr. and Naperville Central QB Payton Thorne. Simeon WR Alante Brown didn't sign on Wednesday but is expected to sign with the Spartans in February.
Western Michigan- The Broncos and head coach Tim Lester and staff have deep State of Illinois roots and that showed on Wednesday. Western Michigan inked some strong names in Jacobs OT Joacheim Price, Raby WR Marshawn Foster plus Hillcrest WR Corey Crooms, Mount Carmel big back Kyle Davis and Rich Central RB Sean Tyler. Western Michigan lost some early commitments in this class including Naperville Central QB Payton Thorne (Michigan State) yet the Broncos still managed to assemble a nice class from the Land of Lincoln.
Northern Illinois- The Huskies once again stayed closer to home when filling out it's Class of 2019 for the most part and came away with a ton of speed and athletes. The in-state class is led by Phillips 3 star ranked WR Fabian McCray, who was a last minute addition to the class. Also high school level names such as Solorio WR Messiah Travis, Oswego East WR Justin Clark plus Nazareth Academy RB Michael Love, Kenwood DB Mark Aitken and Raby DB Romel Goston add even more speed and athleticism. Post grad additions of former 3 star ranked Homewood-Flossmoor WR Tyrice Ritchie plus 3 star ranked Glenbard North/St. Thomas More DB Tyrik Henderson add an even higher talent level to an already strong overall class.
North Dakota State- The Bison at this stage are an FCS level program awaiting a chance to move into the FBS ranks because on the field and on the recruiting trail NDSU has been killing it. The Bison added new State of Illinois pledges in Batavia LB Luke Weerts, Lake Zurich OLB Luke Dwyer and Metea Valley S Julian Wlodarczyk are all top notch names while Highland Park S Giancarlo Volpentesta is a hard noised kid with a great chance to turn his preferred walk on offer into an eventual scholarship offer. Weerts and Dwyer in particular turned down several FBS level offers to play for the Bison.
South Dakota State- The Jackrabbits have always had a toe in the water when it comes to the State of Illinois, yet this year the Jacks found a way of landing four quality names to add to an already strong SDSU football program. St. Charles North OL Alex Westendorf, Highland Park LB Thomas Motzko, Nazareth Academy DB Diamond Evans and Farmington DL Jarod DePriest all had multiple FCS offers and tons of FBS attention.