Illini recruiting again lackluster in-state

Illini recruiting again lackluster in-state
February 6, 2014, 3:45 pm
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Illinois Final National Team recruiting ranking: 72

Top ranked recruit: Lincoln-Way East offensive center Nick Allegretti (6-foot-4, 280 pounds) is a three-star-ranked recruit and the eighth-best offensive center recruit in the nation according to The Fighting Illini had no recruits ranked above three stars in this signing class per Rivals.

Top ranked local recruit: Besides Allegretti, the Illini also inked Mount Carmel running back Matt Domer (6-foot-0, 188 pounds). Domer led the Caravan to back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013 and was one of several quality running backs in a very strong in-state running backs group.

[MORE: Tim Beckman assures Illini recruits they have a chance to play]

The one who got away: Illinois was in on several top recruits early, yet the one that they missed on was Highland four-star offensive lineman Tanner Farmer (6-foot-4, 315 pounds). Farmer, whose family has serious Illinois ties, went somewhat unnoticed until he had a very strong camp performance last spring. Farmer, who signed with Nebraska, has been nothing short of spectacular ever since that camp performance.

Sleeper of the class: Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin wide receiver Malik Turner (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) had an injury-plagued junior season and went under the radar for many. Turner has the physical tools, speed and ball skills to become a big-time player for the Fighting Illini sooner rather than later.

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

Local breakdown: Much like the rest of the Illinois recruiting class of 2014, the in-state group is also a solid yet not spectacular roster-filling type of class. Allegretti made very impressive progress from his junior to senior year. Domer is an every-down type of back. Neuqua Valley wide receiver Mike Dudek is a quick, slot-back type who can become a difference maker. Lincoln-Way North defensive back Julian Hylton (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) has the physical tools and ability but will need to adjust to playing defense after playing mainly running back in high school. If anyone of the in-state kids has a chance for a breakout sooner rather than later, it's Turner.

EDGY's thoughts: Illinois has been great in recruiting circles from January to about mid-August. Yet once the football season begins, most of the Illini recruiting momentum seems to fade away. The solution? Winning. Win games and the recruiting momentum is maintained if not increased. Winning gives a beaten-down fan base hope, and that adds to bigger crowds, a better game-day atmosphere and more excitement. The class of 2014 was a decent class in building up some depth at spots. The next step is being able to land at least a handful of top-10 in-state kids. Land five of the top 25 in-state each recruiting year, and at least in my book you're making real progress.