Here's a subject we don't get into that much on NQTC: NCAA football recruiting. Today is like Christmas for those of us who spend way too much time paying attention to where a 17 or 18 year old kid is going to college. Hey, at least Chris Hansen isn't paying us a visit.
Anyway, today is National Signing Day for high school seniors to officially decide where they are playing college football next season. I could spend a lot of time rambling about recruiting classes, but I'll just let you know about some players that have already given verbal commitments to the Illini and will sign today and then we'll look at some guys who haven't decided yet, but are keeping Illinois in mind as they make decisions this morning or this afternoon.
So far, the 2009 class for the Illini consists of 20 commits. Rivals.com, one of the major recruiting services, ranks recruits on a scale of one to five stars. The top 33 recruits this year are five-stars, so you have to be pretty damn special to get that distinction. The Illini have commitments from six four-stars and eight three-stars, with the remaining six recruits coming in as two stars. Of course as with any prognosticating, there are surprises; like Steve Slaton, who was barely a three-star in 2005, or Kevin Grady, who was a five-star recruit that same year.
Talent can't hurt though and Ron Zook has some more of it coming in this year. Juice Williams won't be around forever (no, it's true) and Zook addressed some depth issues at quarterback with a four-star signal caller in Nathan Scheelhaase from Kansas City. He is rated the 7th best dual-threat QB in the nation and held offers from Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Mizzou, among others.
Lendell Buckner is a four-star defensive tackle that definitely has the size to play in the Big Ten. The 6-3, 341 pounder doesn't squeeze easily into most places, but will fit nicely as a nose tackle in the Illini D. The Illini will also welcome Bud Golden, a four-star running back from Ohio. It's always good to add one of the top ten players in the state of Ohio. Leon Hill, a teammate of Buckner's from Chicago Leo, will also come aboard as a four-star offensive lineman.
Despite having a solid class, signing day will not be without drama for the Illini. A couple of receivers that have given verbals to Illinois may be looking elsewhere. Terry Hawthorne and Kraig Appleton, both four-star receivers from East St. Louis, IL, will be deciding today. At 9AM, we should know whether Hawthorne will be with the Illini or will head to Oklahoma, and whether Appleton goes to Wisconsin or Illinois, in a very turbulent recruitment process.
Another one that could go the Illini's way is an Ohio State commit, running back Justin Green. Illinois has come on strong as of late for the four-star and it could pay off. Michael Buchanon will make another decision between Big Ten teams, as the four-star DE is down to Illinois and Purdue.
Finally, a long-shot for the Illini will come with JeRon Stokes, a four-star WR that had been rumored to be deciding between Michigan and Illinois, despite giving a verbal commitment to Tennessee previously. Now it looks like the Vols will retain the services of the standout receiver.
The festivities get started early today and we'll be following along and will have an update this afternoon for all you fellow stalkers.