1035 points (12th in Big Ten to Rivals)
Immediate Help Wanted
We saw it a bit last week with Purdue, but one thing MIchigan fans don't see much of is something that is pretty common with lower tier football teams in the throes of a coaching change. That thing is a reliance on juco talent to help right away. Purdue went with a couple of transfer OL to try and shore up its play in the trenches. Illinois is looking in a slightly different direction.
First, the Illini are bringing in two defensive end prospects out of junior college. Joey Fotu, a three-star out of California is already 6'3 275 lbs and should be a viable option off the bat, as will Carroll Phillips, a 6'4, 245 lbs defensive end out of Mississippi. Of course it figures that Illinois would look for players that can quickly and seemlessly step in and provide defensive pressure off the edges, as the team just lost two of its most disruptive players in LB Jonathan Brown and DE Tim Kynard.
The other two juco players will be far away from these two, off on the other side of the ball and spread out wide. Illinois has added ATH Tyrin Stone-Davis (6'3, 195 lbs.) and WR Geronimo Allison (6'3, 180 lbs.), both of whom are three-star receiver prospects. Again, this move was clearly dictated by need, as Illinois will have to replace four of its top five receiving options from a year ago.
While the downside of recruiting juco players is half the eligibility, for teams like Illinois looking for quick fixes in problem areas, the ability to bring in these juco players is important. In this case it could have a big effect on how well Illinois does as a team this season.
Perhaps not the most heralded recruit, coming to campus bearing an interation of the name "Jeff George" is a pretty big deal in Champaign. The elder George transferred to Illinois after a year at Purdue and would exit the program two years later to go on to be the number one pick in that year's NFL draft.
The younger George, Jeff Jr., doesn't have as much hype as his father did, and according to some, he might not even have the same style game:
Jeff George is his own man. If you're old enough like I am to remember watching his father play both in the professional and collegiate ranks, you'll realize right away that they bring two completely different approaches to the quarterback position. The elder George was the ultimate rocket-armed pocket gunslinger; the younger George offers a combination of mobility and feel.
That same scouting report goes on to praise the younger George's ability to move in the pocket and sense the rush, as well as get the ball out quick. He isn't a running threat, but can pick up a few yards if the opportunity is there.
Illinois likely won't lean on him this year for playing time, and this should be a big asset to Jeff Jr., who could use some time to work on his consistency as a passer. However, the opportunity is there for Jeff George Jr. to develop into a good quarterback for Illinois, and the right fit for a more spread-based passing offense.
Wide Receiver. Illinois not only picked up the two juco players mentioned above, but also managed to reel in two more three star prospects including a big bodied Malik Turner (6'2 205 lbs.) and the smaller Mike Dudek (5'11 175 lbs.). Illinios will certainly need help immediately at the position, and it has four players that can potentially fight for time on the depth chart from day one.
Defensive back. Illinois only picked up one player in the defensive backfield this year, James Hylton. There are still a lot of younger defensive backs on Illinois' roster, but taking just one player in a class when that position is nearly half of the defense on any given play (the proliferation of nickel corners in response to spread offenses means that a lot of times five of the 11 defenders will be DBs). Hylton has good size and athleticism, but he is by no means a lock to contribute, and if he is a miss the Illini will have an even bigger hole on the depth chart in a couple years.