|Gabe Megginson is Illinois' top-rated recruit for 2014|
Star breakdown (according to 247 Composite): 4-stars (1), 3-stars (10), 2-stars (2)
Team recruiting ranking (according to 247 Composite): #50 as of September 3, 2014
Cream of the crop: Jacksonville (IL) Jacksonville offensive tackle Gabe Megginson is the Illini's lone 4-star, and Illinois defeated teams like Arkansas, Miami, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, and Wisconsin for his verbal. He plays high at times, but he's a nasty blocker who drives his feet relentlessly. DeKalb (IL) DeKalb running back Dre Brown is a solidly built downhill back with good speed, and I like how he fits with the current Illinois offense.
Needs: Defense. Chicago (IL) Hales Franciscan strong safety Patrick Nelson is the only current commit on the defensive side of the ball.
Overall: Illinois is taking the mid-major approach of pulling in a lot of players who played in junior colleges, community colleges, prep schools, etc. In theory, this will temporarily prop them up with physically - and perhaps mentally - mature players, allowing them to win and then improve their high school recruiting. This has worked well for teams like Kansas State and Cal, plus some schools in the SEC. It is not a common practice in the Big Ten. They have a couple solid players in the class, but overall, it does not seem like a group that will help launch this team into the top third of the conference.