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January 15, 2013

Illini football recruiting notebook

Things are heating up as National Signing Day approaches. Orange and Blue News recaps some of the recent Illinois football recruiting news.

Turnover in the 2013 class

Losing CB Reon Dawson to Michigan was a blow. Dawson, always a good athlete, had refined his technique and was becoming a lock-down cover man - something Illinois desperately needed in this recruiting class. The Wolverines were looking for a big corner since the decommittment of Gareon Conley, a three-star cornerback from Massillon (Ohio) Washington.

Another defensive back commitment, Joshua Jones, is a soft verbal at this point and is just off of an official visit to Pitt. Next up is a trip to Michigan State, and then Jones will decide whether to take his last visit to N.C. State, Iowa, or Colorado the weekend of Jan. 25.

Though still committed to Illinois, Chicago Simeon linebacker Reggie Spearman has a list of five schools that he will choose from - most likely with his decision coming on National Signing Day . Spearman is considering Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa and Purdue.

Evan Panfil picked up an offer from Purdue. So far, the 6-foot-3, 230 defensive end is saying that he is solid to Illinois. But a Purdue visit could be on tap.

Weekend visitors

Jan. 18-19 is the last weekend that Illinois will host official visitors as they finish up their 2013 recruiting class.

The big target this weekend is Peoria (Ill.) defensive tackle Josh Augusta, who recently cut his list to two schools, Illinois and Missouri. With the Tigers still the leader, Illinois will need to roll out the red carpet for Augusta

Two visitors are options to replace Dawson.

Crete-Monee (Ill.) senior defensive back prospect Jaylen Dunlap (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) will visit, and will find out on the trip whether the Fighting Illini will offer him a scholarship.

Dejuan Rogers from Detroit Cass Tech is currently committed to Toledo. A two-star cornerback, Rogers had offers from Syracuse and Northern Illinois.

Two Illini commits are also taking their official visits this weekend: Running back Miguel Hermosillo and defensive tackle Merrick Jackson.

Local star Cameron Mammen from Urbana (Ill.) is also visiting. Mammen, a 6-foot-1, 190 pound athlete, doesn't yet have an offer from the Illini.

Early enrollees on campus

Ten newcomers are on campus and enrolled at Illinois, including five junior college players and five high school signees.

It's encouraging to see offensive lineman Christian DiLauro listed at 270 pounds. DiLauro played at around 240 last season at Green HS in Uniontown (Ohio). DiLauro is an excellent athlete, and has tremendous upside.

Illinois will lean heavily on two JUCO recruits. Both offensive tackle Dallas Hinkhouse and defensive tackle Abens Cajuste are expected to fill starters rolls for the Illini heading into spring drills.

The Illini recruited Martize Barr from Iowa Western CC as a wide receiver, but he was flipped to cornerback in his one season at New Mexico. Barr will enter the spring on offensive, but he could play defensive back if the staff decides there is a greater need on that side of the ball.

Darius Mosely should have an opportunity to get into the rotation in the secondary, especially with Dawson flipping to Michigan. Returning player V'Angelo Bently, Eaton Spence, and Jevaris Little are largely unproven.

Junior day on tap

The Illini staff will host a large number of 2014 recruits on Jan. 26, and many will stick around for the Illinois basketball game at the Assembly Hall vs. Michigan on the 27th.

Last winter, Illinois got a fast start on the 2013 class by hosting similar junior day events. Orange and Blue News will preview the junior day early next week.

Expect the junior day to have an impact on our 2014 hot list.

Running back a priority

The running back position is a priority for Illinois in the 2014 class. So far, 8 junior running backs have offers from Illinois, including 4-star backs Justin Jackson, Jeff Jones, and Mikale Wilbon.

A new in-state running back emerged last week at the Army All-American combine. Tinley Park (Ill.) Andrew junior running back prospect Jarvion Franklin was a stand-out at the event. He is a physical back at 6-foot, 214 pounds. Franklin has in invite to the Illini junior day on Jan. 26th.

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