Big Ten Signing Day: State's top talent eludes Illini

Big Ten Signing Day: State's top talent eludes Illini
February 6, 2014, 6:15 pm
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Vinnie Duber

Big Ten Signing Day

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There are few days as frantic as National Signing Day. And sometimes it can be a difficult enough task to try and keep up with news of one team, let alone 12 of them.

Well, now that all the Signing Day hubbub has died down, it’s a good time to take a look at what happened in the Big Ten. How did the teams do? Who are the big-name recruits coming to the conference next season? And how happy were the coaches with their respective hauls? We’ve broken it down, team-by-team.

Illinois Fighting Illini

(Rivals rankings: 11th Big Ten, 72nd nationally)

It wasn’t a great day for the Illini, if you take a look at the rankings. There wasn’t any recruit on the Illini’s board rated higher than three stars by Rivals.

But, if there’s good news for the kids who signed up to wear orange and blue, it could be a chance to make a more immediate impact than they could have elsewhere. Both head coach Tim Beckman and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit addressed the fact that Illinois offers an opportunity to compete, something that would figure to be true given the many holes the Illini have had over the past two seasons, in which they won just one conference game.

The frustration arises from the Illini's continued inability to land its own state's top talent. None of the top 19 recruits in the state picked Illinois. That's a problem when you're the state's largest school and largest football program.

[MORE: Shot at Northwestern reminds of Illini in-state struggles]

Top recruit: The Illini didn’t make many splashes. The top-rated recruit by Rivals is Nick Allegretti, just the 20th-ranked recruit in the state. He’s a 6-foot-4, 280-pound offensive lineman out of Lincoln-Way East. Another name to watch is Crouch. The Illini have a lot of possibilities at quarterback, but Crouch could be in that mix.

Coach speak: “I do believe that these players understand that we’re going to play the best at whichever position it might be,” Beckman said. “If he’s a freshman or he’s a senior, you’re going to play the most consistent football player. And if that man is always consistently playing at that level, you’re going to play him. And I hope that players that decide to come to the University of Illinois, regardless of their age, know that they’re going to have a fair chance to compete every day and showcase what they can do, freshman or senior.”