Illini sign last Lovie-influenced recruiting class

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Photo Courtesy of Brody Wisecarver's Twitter

Illinois football recruit Brody Wisecarver signs to join the University of Illinois.

By Carson Gourdie, Assistant Sports Editor

The early signing period has come and gone, and Lovie Smith has left his final direct mark on the program. 14 recruits have signed their letter of intent with the Illini, finishing off an early signing recruiting class ranked 77th in the nation and last in the Big Ten. 

The Illini have the smallest class in the conference, with the next being Northwestern at 17 signees. Illinois did not sign a recruit with a 4-star or higher, with all of them being 3-stars. Ohio State currently has the No.1 ranked class in the conference with three 5-stars — the only program besides Maryland to sign one.

Illinois’ top recruit was offensive guard Brody Wisecarver, a 6’4 and 317 pounder from St. Louis. Wisecarver was the sixth-best rated player in Missouri and is the 25th rated guard in the country. 

Illinois also signed Samari Collier, a dual-threat quarterback from Texas who has a big frame. At 6’3 and 220 pounds, the De Soto native is a “pass-first but functionally athletic enough to hurt defenses with his legs” and has “Power Five upside in the right situation,” according to Midlands Region recruiting analyst Gabe Brooks. 

An observation from the recruiting class is the lack of in-state talent recruited. Out of the 14 signees, only three hail from the Land of Lincoln. And out of those three, the highest-rated recruit from Illinois is Loyola Academy offensive lineman Josh Kreutz, who ranks 26th in the state. 

Pj Fleck and Minnesota currently have five players from Illinois ranked inside the top 25 while Kirk Ferentz and Iowa have three, which highlights Smith’s struggle to recruit in-state kids over the last five seasons.

With Smith gone and Whitman currently searching for his next head coach, the ability to keep in-state kids will likely be a key decision point. And the state is not deficient in talent — the state produced six 4-stars. 

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