Overview: 2016 Signing Day
The Class of 2016 begins to ink Letters of Intent today nationwide. Here is EDGYTIM's State of Illinois breakdown for the Class of 2016.
Overall Grade for the Class of 2016?
Simply put, the State of Illinois Class of 2016 is on track to sign one of the lowest amount of D1 level names for as long as I've been tracking Illinois recruiting (over 20 years). As of Tuesday afternoon I show 62 kids committed to the BCS level schools and so far 26 kids committed to FCS schools (I count only FCS schools who offers athletic scholarship monies).
Below are the past 5 Signing Classes as an example of the sudden downturn in high college level talent in Class of 2016.
2015- 79 BCS level names 21 FCS level names
2014- 74 BCS level names 23 FCS level names
2013- 77 BCS level names 22 FCS level names
2012- 68 BCS level names 17 FCS level names
2011- 72 BCS level names 21 FCS level names
The List: Land of Lincoln Class of 2016 Commitment Tracker (all college levels)
Are You Committed? Are You Sure?
The storyline for most will be the amount of decommitments in the Class of 2016 both locally and nationally, yet few will talk about the why. So why so many decommitments?Combine coaching changes, extending offers too early and accepting verbal commits too early to grades and test scores....and it's all combining to force more and more decommitments.
Also important to note, the 2.3 GPA to for the NCAA Clearinghouse is in full effect for this class (up from last year's 2.0 GPA NCAA requirement). I fully expect more than a few names on my Top 50 to at best just barely get cleared and in many other cases kids will sign on Wednesday but won't be on the college roster in the fall. Between GPA and test scores several more kids will be left behind sadly. So who's effected? From a top tier standpoint it's not too hard to figure out after today.
The Early Signing period is badly needed. You'll never be able to limit the coaching changes. Even adding an early signing period you will still need to allow kids and schools to void the Letter of Intent if a head coach is fired or resigns. Yet in many cases a large majority of kids are ready by say May before the start of the senior year to make a final decision. An early signing allows those kids to lock in and also allows schools to lock in kids and then move on. The Early Signing period won't cure all of the current recruiting woes, but it's definitely a step in the right direction in my opinion.
Another idea I love but would never happen is the sign at any time Letter of Intent. Bo Pelini, current Western Kentucky head coach proposed this a few years ago (not Faux Pelini either). If a college wants to offer say an 8th grader, allow the school and the kid/parents to offer and then sign a Letter of Intent right then. If a school truly wants your 8th grader they will be ready to lock you in the moment they "offer". No question in my mind colleges would put a quick halt to offering kids too early along with the schools who offer verbal scholarships to say 400 plus kids a year. The sign anytime Letter of Intent deal would also halt the kids who "verbally commit" or "make a reservation" until someone better comes along.
Strength of the Class of 2016 in Illinois? Defensive linemen
Just take a look at my Top 50 Class of 2016 final recruit rankings. Three out of my Top 4 are defensive linemen including two defensive tackles in Lake Park Mike Panasiuk and Evanston's Naquan Jones. Also impressive is the fact that that 12 out of the Top 50 names play on the defensive line. I can't remember when this state has had as strong of a defensive linemen class to be honest. I also expect the large majority of this defensive linemen class to have the chance to become early impact types at the college level.
Positions that didn't fare well?
Offensive tackles heck Offensive linemen for that matter
Definitely a lack of big men in this class and that's never a good sign. Especially from the offensive tackles spot this class just fell short over just having the usual abundance of big tackle bodies. Sure kids like Downers Grove South's Erik Swenson (who I still feel is more of a guard), Carmel's Sean Foster, Nashville's Royce Newman, Lincoln Way West Justin Witt and Maine South's Liam O'Sullivan are all ranked in my Top 3. Yet more than a few of those names are to be considered more "developmental" guys from a physical standpoint for now. You also won't find a ton of offensive tackle body types that got swopped up by D2 and below schools either.
The Rivals.com Football Database has 31 quarterbacks listed in the Class of 2016 with only four known names inking D1/1AA level Letters of Intent today. Not good. The position itself remains one of the hardest spots to gain an offer for several good reasons. First you have a limited amount of sports, then throw in an evaluation process that gets earlier and earlier? I have no doubt that the quarterbacks in Illinois have never had it harder.
Big BCS Winners?
The Spartans had this one wrapped up by mid summer to be honest. Head coach Mark Dantonio was in need of defensive linemen in particular and discovered a bonanza here in Illinois. Michigan State always works this state hard and give the Spartans credit for securing early verbal commitments and for also not letting those recruits slip away from them.
It's been a while since the Hawkeyes were able to come away with a sizable haul from Chicagoland, yet Iowa's recruiting efforts in Illinois for this class were just very steady and solid. Naperville Central wide receiver Emmanuel Rugamba leads a group of five 3-star ranked Land of Lincoln commits. All five have the potentiual to become longer term answers in several spot for Iowa.
The Broncos have added a few top ranked MAC classes back-to-back, and at least from an Illinois perspective former Kaneland and NBIU standout player and current WMU head coach PJ Fleck and staff added a handful of names to watch. Evanston three-star ranked QB Matt Little (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) was locked up very early by the Broncos and many feel that Little has Big 10 level physical tools and potential. Neuqua Valley tight end Brett Borske (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) is a huge target, and Borske physically has the look of a Power 5 conference level prospect.
Hard to ever count out the in-state Huskies. Sure, NIU seldom ever lands any high profile level recruit names yet they have gotten pretty used to doing it The Hard Way. So how does NIU and head coach Rod Carey get it done? NIU utilizes it's on campus and satellite camps as well as anyone. NIU always gives the higher profile names a sniff, yet they also don't fall all over them. NIU instead recruits kids who they like and also expects those same kids to show genuine interest in NIU. It's a two-way street process for the Huskies who years ago stopped being Fallback U. NIU also recruits speed and isn't afraid to roll dice on a kid or two when required. Prime examples of NIU's winning recruiting approach is McHenry LB Corey Lersch along with Normal Community S Andrew Gregory. Both Lersch and Gregory slipped under the recruiting radar early, got them both into camps, offered them and secured them. Lersch and Gregory have size, speed and potential that they saw live this summer.
So how did the in-state BCS and FCS level schools fare? Stay tuned more breakdowns to follow.
Just missed the Class of 2016 Top 50 recruit rankings?
ATH Rhashaun Epting, Proviso West - Committed to New Mexico after decommitting from Western Michigan, Epting has the look (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) and feel of a name that can head down to Lobo country and return as an NFL looking name. He could wind up playing defensive line/linebacker at the college level.
DE Allen Stallings, Oak Park-River Forest - Stallings (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) committed to Indiana after decommiting from Central Michigan. He was a tweener from a positional standpoint and didn't add his offer from the Hoosiers until last week. Stallings was simply one of the hardest hitters I saw all season and has a chance to become a disruptive hybrid pass rusher/linebacker for the Hoosiers.
LB Corey Lersch, McHenry - Lersch (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) camped with NIU this past summer, landed an offer and committed before his recruiting really took off. Lersch has great size and speed and just has the look of a player who still has a ton of upside.
DB Andrew Gregory, Normal Community - Gregory (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) has the potential to be yet another steal for the Huskies. He has the physical tools to grow into a safety/outside linebacker and has real potential.
OL Joe Ware Crete-Monee- Ware (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) had a tremendous senior season for the Warriors and head coach John Konecki. Ware, who at this time is still committed to Illinois State also is drawing a ton of MAC interest and offers late. If anyone could flip late it very well could be Joe Ware. Ware also had more upside and growth left.