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Illinois received a verbal commitment from five-star 2019 ATH Isaiah Williams.

Biggest recruit to commit to Illinois during HC Lovie Smith's two-year tenure with the program. Williams (5'10/160) is a versatile athlete, but projects as a likely quarterback for the college game. He has the quick-draw release of a true gunslinger and a dynamic ability as a runner. Alas, the most glaring weakness in his game is one that he can't really change -- he measures out as incredibly undersized for a quarterback. That will still be the case even after he adds weight. Not much you can do about your height. Should Illinois shy away from him as their future signal-caller, he does have additional upside for both corner and slot wideout. Regardless of the size question, this is a slam-dunk pledge for the program. Factor in graduate transfers from QB A.J. Bush (Virginia Tech) and WRs Jalen Greene (USC) and Shaedon Meadors (Appalachian State) and we're starting to see actual positive movement for the program this offseason.
Source: 247Sports
Mar 23 - 3:18 PM

USC redshirt senior WR Jalen Greene transferred to Illinois as a graduate.

Greene (6'2/200) initially joined USC as a three-star dual threat quarterback in the 2014 class. He took a redshirt for his first year on campus and transitioned to receiver prior to the start of the 2015 season. His was a quiet run after the position switch, as he failed to surpass more than 10 catches in any of his three active campaigns with the Trojans. While Greene's output at USC was very threadbare, we like what Illinois has done in terms of their transfer gets in advance of the 2018 season. Not only is Greene heading over to HC Lovie Smith's crew, they've additionally picked up transfers from Virginia Tech QB A.J. Bush and Appalachian State WR Shaedon Meadors.
Mar 22 - 5:52 PM

Virginia Tech redshirt senior QB A.J. Bush transferred to Illinois as a graduate.

While Bush won't be enrolling at Illinois until the summer, he should immediately be considered a true contender for the starting quarterback gig. This has less to do with what the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder has shown on the field -- he's already been through three programs (Nebraska, Iowa Western, Virginia Tech) and has attempted just 11 passes for his FBS career -- and more to do with the near-complete lack of depth in the Illinois quarterbacks room. To whit, the only Illini scholarship signal-caller currently on roster is sophomore Cam Thomas. The team will be stocking up with incoming freshman quarterbacks prior to August camp, but regardless, Bush should be considered a heavy contender to start so long as he shows some spark once he arrives on campus.
Source: 247Sports
Mar 13 - 12:32 PM

Illinois received a verbal commitment from previously uncommitted four-star 2019 ATH Marquez Beason.

Beason (5'11/175) had offers from schools like Ohio State, Texas A&M, LSU and Georgia, so this is a big win for the Illini. Greg Power of 247 Sports calls him an "electric" player that is both shifty and able to run past defenders. He also is considered a high-end cornerback prospect, so he could play on either side of the ball. This seems to be a substantial get for Lovie Smith and company as they try and make Illinois into a Big Ten contender.
Source: 247 Sports
Mar 10 - 6:50 PM

Illinois Coach Lovie Smith said redshirt senior WR Mike Dudek has "no limitations on him."

Smith continued by saying "Mike is just a good player" and "This is valuable work for him in this new offence. We have big plans for Mike, not just as a receiver but as a returner also." After being named a True-Freshman All-American in 2014, Dudek's career has been derailed by two torn ACL's in consecutive seasons. In 2017 he tallied only 24 receptions for 262 yards and a touchdown as he missed five games due to other injuries. Dudek will look to make a significant impact in his last season as a collegiate athlete.
Mar 9 - 5:20 PM

Illinois redshirt junior LB Justice Williams is moving to wide receiver.

Williams (6'3/215) initially joined the Illini as a three-star linebacking prospect in the 2015 recruiting class. While he had opportunities to break in as a starter -- he was receiving first-team reps at outside linebacker last spring -- he was unable to take advantage of those chances, recording just nine tackles last season while working mostly as a special teams piece. Late last autumn, he began to see work at receiver with the scout team and he impressed enough in that capacity that HC Lovie Smith and company are going to give him a shot to grow into the position. Said Smith, "He gives us a little different body type at that position. Big guy. Should be a good blocker out there, and he has good hands."
Source: 247Sports
Mar 6 - 2:01 PM

USC senior WR Jalen Greene is transferring, according to Joey Kauffman of the Orange County Register.

Greene (6'2/200) was a highly-recruited player, but he leaves the Trojans after making just 26 catches in his three years in the program. He'll reportedly graduate in May, so outside of restrictions placed by the school, he'll be able to play next year as a graduate transfer.
Mar 5 - 8:23 PM

Illinois DC Hardy Nickerson has been promoted to assistant head coach.

Nickerson retains his defensive coordinator position, but also gets the beefed-up title. The former Pro Bowl linebacker has been the defensive coordinator at Illinois since 2016, coming over from Tampa Bay when Lovie Smith was named head coach of the Illini. He also coaches linebackers, a position he played for the Steelers, Buccaneers, Jaguars and Packers.
Feb 23 - 9:56 PM

Illinois has hired Gill Byrd to be its new safeties coach and passing game coordinator.

With the move, Donnie Abraham will move from coaching safeties to the new cornerback coach for the Illini. Byrd spent last year with the Buffalo Bills, but was fired last month despite having another year left on his contract. It'll be his first job as a a collegiate coach, as his last 15 years have been spent as a defensive assistant in the NFL for teams like the Rams, Bears, and Buccaneers.
Feb 23 - 5:57 PM

Illinois hired USC graduate assistant Austin Clark to serve as defensive line coach.

Clark, who has worked on the defensive side of the ball as a grad assistant with the Trojans for the past two seasons, receives his first shot as an FBS position coach. He's very much a baby to the profession, as he'll be just 28 years old come August. In a statement, Illinois HC Lovie Smith said that Clark "just blew us away with his enthusiasm and detail" during his interview with the program.
Feb 9 - 4:12 PM

Football Scoop reports that the Indianapolis Colts will hire Illinois DL coach Mike Phair.

Phair has been on staff with the Illini for the past three seasons. He had a brief stint as defensive coordinator with the program after taking over that role following the firing of HC Tim Beckman in the August of 2015. Among his previous NFL stops, the Bears, Buccaneers and Seahawks.
Jan 25 - 6:08 PM

Illinois has hired former Arizona OC Rod Smith to be their new offensive coordinator.

Smith replaces Garrick McGee, who was fired after the Illini completed a 2-10 season with zero wins in the Big Ten. He spent the last six years working under former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, all working with the quarterbacks and as the offensive coordinator. He has his work cut out for him, taking over an offense that finished 107th in passing yardage and 124th in rushing while scoring just 15.3 points per game.
Jan 19 - 4:11 PM

Illinois senior QB Chayce Crouch announced on his personal Twitter account that he will retire from football.

With Jeff George Jr. announcing his intention to transfer on Wednesday, the Illini are now extremely thin at quarterback. Rising sophomore QB Cam Thomas is the only scholarship quarterback currently on the roster. Over the summer, he'll be joined by three-star recruit MJ Rivers. Illinois will almost certainly add a grad transfer QB in the meantime. Crouch started the first four games last year before he was benched for George.
Jan 18 - 12:45 PM

Illinois redshirt junior QB Jeff George Jr. will transfer as a graduate.

George (6'3/205) played in seven games -- making five starts -- during the 2017 season. In that space, he threw for 1,273 yards (51.9-percent completions) with a dismal 7/10 TD/INT ratio. Moving on as a graduate, the redshirt junior will be eligible to play immediately with his team-to-be come the start of the 2018 campaign. He still has two years eligibility remaining to his name. With George transferring out, Illinois is now facing an absolutely threadbare situation on the quarterbacking depth chart. The only two scholarship quarterbacks currently on roster are Chayce Crouch and Cam Thomas. And Crouch was shifted to tight end during the 2017 campaign. The Illini could potentially shift him back to signal-caller, but regardless, it's a tenuous position group.
Jan 17 - 5:12 PM

Illinois signed four-star 2018 DT Calvin Avery.

Avery (6'4/302) made his initial commitment to Illinois back in August. He's been a dominant force during his career at Bishop Dunne (Texas) and will bring a thump and tenacity to the table for the Illini. He still has technical issues to iron out, but at least on a physical level, he's very developed for his age. On the 247Sports composite, Avery lands at No. 205 overall.
Source: 247Sports
Tue, Dec 26, 2017 04:18:00 PM


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