Tim Beckman and his staff finished off a furious week of camps on Saturday with a 7-on-7 camp and big man camp in Champaign. The on-campus events followed four days of satellite camps around the state of Illinois, including stops at Chicago Mt Camel, Lincoln-Way East, Barrington, Rockford Boylan, East Peoria, Edwardsville, and O'Fallon.
The camps gave Beckman and his assistant coaches an opportunity to work out hundreds of prospects from Illinois and around the Midwest. Equally important, the camps served as a great chance to sell the Illini program and for players and coaches around the state to get to know what this staff is all about.
Orange and Blue News wraps up a hectic week with our Illinois football recruiting notebook.
Camps produce offers
The overall talent level at the camps was a step up from previous years, particularly the underclassmen. Four players stood out enough for Beckman to offer them on-site.
Defensive end Dawuane Smoot from Groveport (Ohio) Madison was easily the defensive MVP at the Barrington camp. So far, Illinois is Smoot's only BCS-level offer, but that will change soon. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Smoot is a quick rusher off the edge, and would be a good fit at the "leo" position at Illinois, which is currently held down by Michael Buchanan.
Speed was the story at the Lincoln-Way East Camp, with several players running in the 4.4 range. Matt Harris from Lyons Township blew everyone away with his performance at the camp and earned an Illini offer. Harris was o.k. working as a cornerback, but it was when he starting catching passes at the receiver position that he really stood out. Illinois likes Harris as a wide-out and return man.
Athlete Andre Harris from Kirkwood (MO) in the St Louis metropolitan area was flying under the radar before attending camps this summer. Illini assistant Tim Salem was recruiting Harris prior to the camp in O'Fallon, but this was the first opportunity to see Harris live. Though on the small side at 5-foot-11, 157 pounds, Harris impressed with extremely quick feet in drills and a 4.4 forty time. His best position is likely CB, but he can play WR and returns kicks.
Ottawa (Ill.) running back Miguel Hermosillo was on campus in Champaign for the Nike Football Training Camp, but that camp was not open to college coaches. The staff saw Hermosillo at the Rockford camp and decided to offer him as a slot receiver. Physical and quick, Hermosillo was also a stand-out at the 7-on-7 camp on Saturday.
Illinois has also offered 2014 DT Enoch Smith Jr. who camped at his home school, Chicago Mt. Carmel. Smith Jr. (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) was one of the top inside pass rushers that Illinois saw this past week.
Illini welcome visitors
In addition to Florida safety Blake McClain (see our front page story), Illinois hosted New Albany (Ohio) athlete Darron Lee on Friday. Lee sports offers from Arizona State, Boston College, Purdue, West Virginia, and others. An Ohio State offer would likely be a game-changers.
A couple of two-star prospects from Washington (DC) Woodson stopped by Illinois on Saturday. Running back Duane Thompson recently picked up an Illini offer. Cornerback Jordan Smith has offers from Colorado and Kansas. The pair is being recruiting by Illinois assistant Chris Beatty, along with another Woodson player, three-star safety Darwyn Kelly.
Illinois will take a quarterback in the 2014 class. Pro-style quarterback Caleb Henderson from Burke (VA) Lake Braddock visited on Saturday. So far, Henderson has offers from Maryland, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.
Decision time nearing
The recruiting process is winding down for some of the top prospects on the Illini recruiting board. Look for three defensive backs to make their decision soon, with some other players also edging closer to pulling the trigger.
O'Fallon (Ill.) defensive back Darius Mosely will make his decision this coming Saturday while in Texas competing with the 19-U USA national team. Mosely ranks with wide receiver Laquon Treadwell as the top in-state target for Illinois. He fills a position of needs, and has the speed and playmaking ability that Beckman covets.
Another DB, safety Joshua Jones is visiting Illinois on June 29, and if all goes well he could close the book on his recruitment and commit to Illinois. Iowa is also in the mix, and Jones may elect to visit the Hawkeyes before making his decision.
Jalen Banks from Harvey (Ill.) Thornton has played his recruiting close to the vest. The Illinois staff has been working hard to lock him down, but others may lead at this point. Look for Banks to decide sometime in the near future.
Will some new names crack the Hot List?
Orange and Blue News will publish the new 2013 hot list early this week and follow up with live chat. Look for some changes from the last hot list, with some new names and a shuffling of the deck.
Four-star athlete Caleb Day was the top player at the Illinois one-day advanced camp last weekend. He lists the Illinoi in his top three, along with Big Ten powers Michigan and Ohio State. Day could play cornerback, safety, or wide receiver at the next level.
Illinois is still looking for offensive linemen, and they have a shot at Matt Miller, the No. 36 ranked offensive guard in the nation. Miller is from Perrysburgh (Ohio) St John's and is being recruited by Illini assistant Alex Golesh.