It’s been a fruitful decade thus far on the recruiting trail in the state of Illinois, and 2014 may be the Land of Lincoln's best year to date.
The nation's No. 2 OLB Clifton Garrett is high on Ohio State, but he also likes Florida, LSU and Ole Miss.
Already, 29 prospects hold at least one BCS scholarship offer, and several more hold at least one mid-major scholarship.
To put it into perspective, according to the 247Composite ratings, 36 players from Illinois signed with a BCS school in 2013, 30 did in 2012 and 38 did in 2011. Still just under 11 months from National Signing Day, 2014 has a chance to blow past those numbers.
“You can see from one year to the next that there’s an abundance of players and a great group of players to recruit from compared to last year,” one Big Ten coach told 247Sports. “I think the overall development with some of these camps and teams, for example Core 6, I think they do a great job of offseason development work, and I think you’re seeing more players from my understanding.”
We’re not just talking BCS talent, but blue-chip talent, as several Illinois products are showing up in the 247Composite national rankings.
-There’s the country’s No. 2 outside linebacker in Clifton Garrett.
-The nation’s No. 4 offensive tackle in Jamarco Jones.
-America’s No. 4 inside linebacker in Nyles Morgan.
-The country’s No. 2 all-purpose back in Justin Jackson.
-The nation’s No. 2 center in Brian Allen.
While Illinois has produced its fair-share of national recruits over the years, those mentioned and many more are being targeted by and have offers from programs coast-to-coast.
“Tough kids that play hard,” another Big Ten coach assessed.
“I think the kids are getting more publicized,” a third Big Ten coach said. “There are kids getting offers because the exposure kids are getting is better.”
Ranked as the country's No. 4 ILB, Nyles Morgan is liking Florida, Florida State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt among others.
That national exposure was very evident in the class-of-2013.
Typically, the Big Ten schools and Notre Dame have ruled in recruiting the state’s top talent, however in 2013, the 247Composite top-three players ended up inking with Ole Miss, LSU and USC respectively in receiver Laquon Treadwell, offensive tackle Ethan Pocic and running back Ty Isaac. A little different feel compared to 2012 where four of the top five prospects stayed in the Big Ten, and in 2011 all five either went Big Ten or to Notre Dame.
Recruiting battles are already getting heated in this class, and there are several prospects that could be lured away from the Big Ten/Notre Dame.
The state’s top player in Garrett is favoring Ohio State but is taking his time with the recruiting process and schools like Florida, LSU and Ole Miss are coming on strong.
Some of the schools that have impressed Morgan early includes Florida, Florida State, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt.
The Buckeyes may also have the inside track for Jones, but he also has a strong interest in programs including Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.
Michigan has set the bar for the state’s No. 4 prospect in cornerback Parrker Westphal, but the Bolingbrook (Ill.) High standout looks forward to visiting Florida in the spring and is still looking at all of his options.
The state’s No. 5 prospect in Chicago De La Salle running back Mikale Wilbon has really good relationships with Arizona State, Iowa and Vanderbilt.
Florida, Ole Miss and Tennessee have all offered O’Fallon (Ill.) High defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, while Illinois, Kansas State, Michigan State and Missouri are a few of the other schools battling for his signature.
Oregon and Vanderbilt are two of the top schools for four-star tight end Ian Bunting along with Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Ohio State is the early leader for Lombard (Ill.) Montini Catholic defensive end Dylan Thompson, but Ole Miss, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri have all recently offered.
Several schools including Iowa State, Kansas and Syracuse and have also thrown out multiple offers in the state of Illinois in hopes of landing a player or two. With the growing number of recruitable players, it's easy to see why more and more schools are trying their luck in the Prairie State.