Recruits show tides are changing for Illini athletics

By Eli Schuster, Sports editor

Isn’t it ironic?

Bizarrely enough, I can’t help but think of the 1996 smash hit from Alanis Morissette that utters that question when thinking about my current situation as sports editor.

I know you might be thinking this accusation is a stretch, or I’m just using this example for comedic effect. Well, you’re not wrong but hear me out.

The past three years I have attended the University, the athletic program has been in shambles.

I have now seen three seasons of impressively problematic football and basketball.

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    It’s important to note, the University has found great success with its non-revenue sports, and I am a firm believer that all those sports deserve more recognition. However, when it comes down to it, those sports are not where the money is being made or spent.

    The past three years have seen a combined 10 victories for football and three absences in the NCAA tournament for basketball that stretches the Illini basketball postseason drought to five consecutive seasons.

    The light at the end of the tunnel has been hard to see. Each sports editor that preceded me had to deal with setbacks that appeared to push the programs further and further away from the light.

    But for the first time in awhile, light has peeked back through.

    Both programs have recently been picking up commitments from top-tier athletes left and right.

    It really started with Illini basketball head coach Brad Underwood locking down a commitment from five-star guard out of Chicago Ayo Dosunmu in October 2017.

    Since then, enough quality recruits, with the addition of four-star forward Tevian Jones has placed the program as the No. 28 recruiting class in the country and No. 7 in the Big Ten.

    For those of you who don’t know, take my word for it; that’s better than what it has been.

    Jump over to football and head coach Lovie Smith is heading into his third season with the team. The 2018 class taking the field in the fall is highlighted by two four-star athletes, Calvin Avery and Verdis Brown. However, the real bright spots for Smith and Co. comes in the 2019 class.

    Only three players have committed thus far, but those three players are enough to make Illinois the No. 27 class in the country early on. Marquez Beason was the first shocker for the Illini program. When the Texas athlete announced his commitment in March, he was the best player to do so since 2006. Not even two weeks later, five-star Isaiah Williams wanted to share that accolade with Beason and became one of the highest ranked recruits ever to commit to the university.

    The commitments have put the Illini on the radar of many top-recruits around the country, and Smith could be on his way to piecing together one of the strongest classes in the program’s history.

    With all that being said, for the first time in a long while, Illinois could be on the right track, and it just happens to be right when I sit down in this new position. All I’m saying is it’s a bit ironic. 

    Don’t you think?


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