2020 Big Ten Football Recruiting: How do the Illini stack up?

#1
OK, guys, I went a little crazy on the charts so we can start talking Illinois football again, instead of Iowa football.

24/7 has the Illini rated last in the Big Ten by quite a bit, 152.9 compared to Rutgers' 170.14. But the average recruit rating was 13th in the Big Ten, and just a smidge from being tied for 12th (0.8490 to 0.8500). As was done last year, I'll see how the class compared to the rest of the conference.

My methodology is simple. I take the individual ratings from 24/7's class calculator and make bar graphs to see how they stack up. As does 24/7, I include only recruits, including JUCO recruits, but not transfers, and recruits with no rating are ignored.

Expectations were high for Illinois' 2020 recruiting class after the top half of the 2019 recruiting class saw a significant jump in talent compared to the prior year.
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However, few of us paid notice to the slight drop in talent in the bottom half of the 2019 recruiting class, a drop which continued into the 2020 class.
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Last year, it was requested that I include quadrants, so I've added lines indicating the top 500, top 1000, top 1500, and where applicable, the top 2000 high school recruits and a line for 4 star (top 370) high school recruits. Thus, when comparing two points on the graph, you'll have a rough idea of how many recruits were rated between those points.

As with last year, I won't try to rank the conference, just decide for or against Illinois. As requested, I am including Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State this year. So here goes, in the order that 24/7 ranked the Big Ten 2020 recruiting class:

Ohio State has three 5 star recruits in this class and 24/7 ranked their class 5th in the country. Illinois 0-1.
1OSU.png


Michigan has 21 and nearly 22 recruits ranked in the top 500. Illinois 0-2.
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Penn State has all 27 recruits in the top 1,000. Illinois 0-3.
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Nebraska has the best class in the Big Ten West. Illinois 0-4, 0-1 in the division.
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Wisconsin has some serious 4 star talent and 14 top 1,000 recruits. Illinois 0-5, 0-2.
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Mike Locksley at Maryland reeling in the only other 5 star recruit in the conference outside of Ohio State. Illinois 0-6, 0-2.
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Purdue has another terrific class. Illinois 0-7, 0-3.
7PU.png


Since we are halfway through, this a good time to take a look at what it takes to be in the upper half of the Big Ten recruiting. Looking at Purdue, it feels like Illinois is so far from even the bottom of the upper half of the conference. But Purdue is interesting to look at nationally as well. Out of 65 P5 schools, Purdue is #33, so exactly in the middle, in terms of both 24/7 ranking score and recruit average rating. (In the conference, they are 7th in the 24/7 ranking score and 6th in recruit average rating.)

On a national level, here are some facts related to P5 schools:
  • Half of the P5 schools have at least four 4 star recruits. (Illinois has none.)
  • Half of the P5 schools have at least an .8664 average rating; the average is .8573 for all P5 schools. (Illinois averaged 0.8490.)
  • Only 4 schools in the top half of the average rating took less than 20 recruits, so they weren't relying on a couple recruits to boost their average. (Illinois had 13 recruits.)
  • More than half of the P5 schools have at least 22 recruits and the average is 21.6 recruits.
  • Half of the P5 schools have at least a 208.38 score with the average being 218.77. (Illinois had a score of 152.90.)

And here are some facts related to the Big Ten:
  • Half of the Big Ten has three or more 4 or 5 star recruits.
  • Six of the 14 Big Ten schools have at least five 4 star recruits; two more have 2 with one of those two also having a 5 star recruit.
  • Half of the Big Ten has an average rating of at least .865; the average is .8705
  • Half of the Big Ten has at least 22 recruits, with the average being 21.6.
  • Half of the Big Ten schools have at least a 209.67 score, with the average being 212.78.
Continued in the next post...
 
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#2
Iowa has two 4 stars and 14 top 1,000 recruits. Illinois 0-8, 0-4.
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Minnesota has two 4 stars and 14 top 1,000 recruits. It looks like a mini Iowa. Illinois 0-9, 0-5.
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Mel Tucker at Michigan State pretty much inherited this class. Illinois 0-10.
10MSU.png


Northwestern has one 4 star and 12 recruits in the top 1000, even if they barely made it. Illinois 0-11 and dead last in the division.
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Indiana brought in one 4 star and 14 recruits in the top 1,000. Getting pretty close but I have to give this one to Indiana. Illinois now 0-12 in the conference.
12IN.png


At last! Victory, Illinois! Here is where I appreciate Lovie's approach to holding on to the six scholarships. If you can't get the recruits you really want, I think you're better off holding on to the scholarships for the transfer market than just taking bodies, as it appears Schiano did. (I'm sure the Rutgers fans are talking up their superior scouting and all the diamonds in the rough.)
13RU.png


So, how did this class compare to other years? It was slightly worse than Beckman's final class in 2015. But that class did have some talent, including Ke'Shawn Vaughn, the 2020 NFL 3rd round draft pick who was benched for most of Lovie's initial 3-9 campaign and transferred to Vanderbilt.
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However, this class was much better, in my opinion, than the "not-ideal" class of 2016. Who in their right mind would say that the 2016 class is better than the 2020 class? Well, 24/7 would: they gave the 2016 class a score of 153.64 while the 2020 class had a score of only 152.9. Still, there are some solid contributors from the 2016 class, and I think the 2020 class will have even more.
2016v2020Names.png


But comparing this class to Lovie's first class in 2017, this one again seems to come up slightly short.
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And if we look at Lovie's four recruiting classes together, we see how three players last year really built up some expectations for this year. But in hindsight, was that just an anomaly? (Maybe I should have used different colors, but I have a theme going here. Haha.)
2017-2020.png


Continued...
 
#3
If you are like me, you want to see how Illinois has stacked up to the rest of the Big Ten over the last four years. I'll list them in a rough order of how I think the aggregate recruiting classes look.

Looking at Ohio State, I think maybe there needs to be some sort of draft for high school players.
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There is a definite drop in talent with Michigan compared to Ohio State these last four years. Interesting that Illinois' 2019 top two recruits were ever so slightly higher rated than Michigan's 2020 top two recruits, but mismatches everywhere else.

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Penn State's last three classes seem better than their 2017 class.
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A slight improvement for Nebraska the last three years?
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Maryland's recruiting really dropped the last two years, yet still better than Illinois'.
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This chart really shows just how special Wisconsin's 2020 recruiting class was.
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Michigan State's chart looks exactly like Illinois', only better.
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Can you find A. J. Epenesa in this chart with Iowa?
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Purdue gives me hope: compare that 2017 class to the last two years. If Purdue can make that kind of a leap, why not Illinois?
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Minnesota with some obvious improvement the last three years. The Illini's Beason and Williams look like twin towers on here.
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Continued in the next post...
 
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#4
Northwestern and Illinois trending in opposite directions in the middle of the chart.
17-11NW.png


Illinois has the edge in the higher-end recruits, but how can they do worse than Indiana in the middle of the chart? Is Illinois football really worse than Indiana football?
17-12IN.png


As bad as Illinois' recruiting has been, at least it's not Rutgers bad.
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While we are charting, let's take a way to early look at the 2021 class to see how the Illini currently stack up. The data was pulled Thursday night, June 11. Keep in mind, each comment could be prefaced with "It's early, but..."

Ohio State is on target for the highest rated class ever. They have four 5 stars.
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Michigan has the conference's only other 5 star in J.J. McCarthy, who will be playing his senior season at IMG Academy.
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Iowa had a total of three recruits rated at 0.9 or higher in the last four years. They have three in this class.
21-3ia.png


Wisconsin has five 4 stars for the second year in a row.
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Minnesota doubling last year's number of 4 stars.
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Maryland has three 4 stars and 11 recruits in the top 1,000.
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I would rate Penn State's class higher than Maryland's.
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Continued in the next post...
 
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#5
Rutgers added another recruit in the top 1,100 since this chart was created.
21-8ru.png


Northwestern has three 4 star recruits, which matches the total they've had from 2017-2020.
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Nebraska with only ten recruits so far.
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Mel Tucker is supposed to be a top recruiter but his first full class at Michigan State is not looking too impressive so far.
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Is the bloom off the rose with Jeff Brohm at Purdue?
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24/7 has Indiana rated 13th in the conference, but I would swap it with Michigan State's class.
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Can you tell I like making charts? What to make of this information? Well, for one, there is definitely room for improvement. Is the current recruiting, including transfers, "good enough" to compete in the Big Ten year after year? It was last year, but I'm concerned with how sustainable the transfer market will be. Is 6-6 going to be the high point with this type of recruiting? Maybe we can hope for, shall I say it, 7 wins? I think that's my biggest concern.
 
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#6
Always Illini
Central Illinois
It appears to me that most writers are referring to transfer recruiting as the wave of the future. Hopefully that is not like Dots, the "ice cream of the future." Certainly it seems that the transfer market is growing and has been rather successfully used by Lovie and company. I don't know how the rest of the B1G has fared with transfers so I cannot place us in any hierarchy there. I appreciate your work with the HS and JC recruiting rankings but cannot help but see a very incomplete picture without the transfers figured in somehow. That last word may be the key and I have no idea how you can do that. Without it though we are not seeing a complete picture of what the Illini program is doing in talent acquisition. Just my two cents worth and I'm giving it out free today.
 
#9
If you’re looking for a good write-up on transfers and what it really does to our talent on the field, here is an excellent analysis by Robert from Illiniboard.

Transfer Impact on Talent

In terms of current recruiting efforts, I’d love it if we had a mid level (B1G) class that was almost all the way full at this point. But we don’t, and it’s never been Lovie’s strategy to fill the class quickly.

I learned from the 2nd year (when we saw this strategy continue from the first) to be patient and wait until the end to evaluate. So that’s what I’ll do.

Lovie’s classes are like the annual flu season (and not just that they make you sick BA DUM TSS) in that you can’t truly analyze the impact it had until after it’s done.
 
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#12
Transfers would definitely add some points to Illinois' score if we were using the 24/7 class calculator, as Robert did, but it doesn't move the needle so much when we stack them up. As mentioned above, the 24/7 class calculator rates the "not ideal" class of 2016 higher than the 2020 class (when not factoring in transfers). So let's look at what adding transfers does when stacking up against Illinois' three closest competitors. As Robert did, I will be using the 24/7 transfer rating when available. I'm including the charts previously posted and the charts with transfers included right below.

I don't really see any improvement against Northwestern.
11NW.png

transfers1NW.png


Nor do I see any improvement against Indiana when we stack them up.
12IN.png

transfers2IN.png


And, unfortunately with Rutgers, unless you want to heavily weigh the first two recruits, it appears adding transfers moves Illinois to last place in the 2020 recruiting rankings. Yes, Rutgers out-recruited Illinois on the transfer market.
13RU.png

transfers3RU.png
 
#13
South Carolina
Transfers would definitely add some points to Illinois' score if we were using the 24/7 class calculator, as Robert did, but it doesn't move the needle so much when we stack them up. As mentioned above, the 24/7 class calculator rates the "not ideal" class of 2016 higher than the 2020 class (when not factoring in transfers). So let's look at what adding transfers does when stacking up against Illinois' three closest competitors. As Robert did, I will be using the 24/7 transfer rating when available. I'm including the charts previously posted and the charts with transfers included right below.

I don't really see any improvement against Northwestern.
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Nor do I see any improvement against Indiana when we stack them up.
View attachment 6122
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And, unfortunately with Rutgers, unless you want to heavily weigh the first two recruits, it appears adding transfers moves Illinois to last place in the 2020 recruiting rankings. Yes, Rutgers out-recruited Illinois on the transfer market.
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Putting Luke Ford in 2020 would make a difference. If you keep him in 2019 then that year looks really stacked when including transfers.
 
#14
Always Illini
Central Illinois
Transfers would definitely add some points to Illinois' score if we were using the 24/7 class calculator, as Robert did, but it doesn't move the needle so much when we stack them up. As mentioned above, the 24/7 class calculator rates the "not ideal" class of 2016 higher than the 2020 class (when not factoring in transfers). So let's look at what adding transfers does when stacking up against Illinois' three closest competitors. As Robert did, I will be using the 24/7 transfer rating when available. I'm including the charts previously posted and the charts with transfers included right below.

I don't really see any improvement against Northwestern.
View attachment 6120
View attachment 6121

Nor do I see any improvement against Indiana when we stack them up.
View attachment 6122
View attachment 6123

And, unfortunately with Rutgers, unless you want to heavily weigh the first two recruits, it appears adding transfers moves Illinois to last place in the 2020 recruiting rankings. Yes, Rutgers out-recruited Illinois on the transfer market.
View attachment 6124
View attachment 6125
Thanks for adding those data. It can be depressing but will have to be assessed against results as we move forward. It we keep improving WL and move past some of these teams then there is a flaw in the analysis or the assumptions upon which they are based. It is a tricky business predicting future growth/performance although in this age of data collection and analysis it seems to be moving toward more certainty. I appreciate your work. It does say something about how we are doing. The question is still how it will all come out in the wash.
 
#15
Putting Luke Ford in 2020 would make a difference. If you keep him in 2019 then that year looks really stacked when including transfers.
He can't be put in the 2020 class. He was on the team in 2019, sitting out as a redshirt.

The whole issue with transfers can get muddled. If you are including them in a class calculator, should you subtract players who transfer out? That would include leaving early for any reason. You essentially haven't successfully recruited them to stay.

And for the most part, transfers are usually some other team's backups. If you aren't recruiting well, which is usually why a team can have a spot available for a transfer, how much will adding someone else's backups really improve the win total? I think there is a ceiling there, but I don't know what it is, maybe 7 wins, but that is just a guess.

I think we have a tendency to think that Illinois is doing fantastic recruiting transfers, in part based on the stacked 2019 transfer "class." But there were a lot of special situations with that class that makes me think it won't be repeated.

Does Chase Brown come to Illinois if his twin isn't already on the squad? Maybe, and that goes both ways pertaining to the offer and the acceptance.

Oluwole Betiku Jr.
Josh Imatorbhebhe
Trevon Sidney
Austin Clark and Keynodo Hudson obviously played a huge role in landing these three transfers from USC. Clark is gone and Hudson, having left USC in 2016, won't have the relationships with current players. The likelihood of being able to recruit three highly rated players from a powerhouse like USC is pretty slim going forward.

Illinois lost out on Tommy Stevens and Illinois was Brandon Peters' only P5 offer. I don't feel like Illinois won a recruiting battle here.

Would Luke Ford have transferred to Illinois if his grandfather wasn't ill?

Richie Petitbon was good friends with Reggie Corbin. Would he have come here if Corbin wasn't here? (I think Blake Jeresaty might be an upgrade, though, so kudos to the staff.)

And most of these players didn't live up to their high school rating. I didn't look to see if 24/7 gave any of them a transfer rating, so the transfer class might not even be as stacked as I think.
 
#16
South Carolina
He can't be put in the 2020 class. He was on the team in 2019, sitting out as a redshirt.

The whole issue with transfers can get muddled. If you are including them in a class calculator, should you subtract players who transfer out? That would include leaving early for any reason. You essentially haven't successfully recruited them to stay.

And for the most part, transfers are usually some other team's backups. If you aren't recruiting well, which is usually why a team can have a spot available for a transfer, how much will adding someone else's backups really improve the win total? I think there is a ceiling there, but I don't know what it is, maybe 7 wins, but that is just a guess.

I think we have a tendency to think that Illinois is doing fantastic recruiting transfers, in part based on the stacked 2019 transfer "class." But there were a lot of special situations with that class that makes me think it won't be repeated.

Does Chase Brown come to Illinois if his twin isn't already on the squad? Maybe, and that goes both ways pertaining to the offer and the acceptance.

Oluwole Betiku Jr.
Josh Imatorbhebhe
Trevon Sidney
Austin Clark and Keynodo Hudson obviously played a huge role in landing these three transfers from USC. Clark is gone and Hudson, having left USC in 2016, won't have the relationships with current players. The likelihood of being able to recruit three highly rated players from a powerhouse like USC is pretty slim going forward.

Illinois lost out on Tommy Stevens and Illinois was Brandon Peters' only P5 offer. I don't feel like Illinois won a recruiting battle here.

Would Luke Ford have transferred to Illinois if his grandfather wasn't ill?

Richie Petitbon was good friends with Reggie Corbin. Would he have come here if Corbin wasn't here? (I think Blake Jeresaty might be an upgrade, though, so kudos to the staff.)

And most of these players didn't live up to their high school rating. I didn't look to see if 24/7 gave any of them a transfer rating, so the transfer class might not even be as stacked as I think.
I agree it's probably not worth the effort to try to incorporate the transfers. It's definitely worthwhile to focus on just the raw recruiting aspect which should make up about 90% of the picture anyway. What is clear is that the staff did pretty well with both prep and transfer recruiting in 2019 and then took a step back in both for 2020. I certainly don't expect anyone to have the impact of Bhebhe or Peter's.
 
#18
He can't be put in the 2020 class. He was on the team in 2019, sitting out as a redshirt.

The whole issue with transfers can get muddled. If you are including them in a class calculator, should you subtract players who transfer out? That would include leaving early for any reason. You essentially haven't successfully recruited them to stay.

And for the most part, transfers are usually some other team's backups. If you aren't recruiting well, which is usually why a team can have a spot available for a transfer, how much will adding someone else's backups really improve the win total? I think there is a ceiling there, but I don't know what it is, maybe 7 wins, but that is just a guess.

I think we have a tendency to think that Illinois is doing fantastic recruiting transfers, in part based on the stacked 2019 transfer "class." But there were a lot of special situations with that class that makes me think it won't be repeated.

Does Chase Brown come to Illinois if his twin isn't already on the squad? Maybe, and that goes both ways pertaining to the offer and the acceptance.

Oluwole Betiku Jr.
Josh Imatorbhebhe
Trevon Sidney
Austin Clark and Keynodo Hudson obviously played a huge role in landing these three transfers from USC. Clark is gone and Hudson, having left USC in 2016, won't have the relationships with current players. The likelihood of being able to recruit three highly rated players from a powerhouse like USC is pretty slim going forward.

Illinois lost out on Tommy Stevens and Illinois was Brandon Peters' only P5 offer. I don't feel like Illinois won a recruiting battle here.

Would Luke Ford have transferred to Illinois if his grandfather wasn't ill?

Richie Petitbon was good friends with Reggie Corbin. Would he have come here if Corbin wasn't here? (I think Blake Jeresaty might be an upgrade, though, so kudos to the staff.)

And most of these players didn't live up to their high school rating. I didn't look to see if 24/7 gave any of them a transfer rating, so the transfer class might not even be as stacked as I think.
People really don't realize it seems how fast Illinois had fallen! We were worse than Indiana! Luckily we didn't play them much! Northwestern was making us look like the worst team in the Big Ten for a while... No one wanted to play for us... If it wasn't for Lovie name being what it is we wouldn't be where we are now... The players coming here are coming because of Lovie! His respect in the NFL... SuperBowl coach.... The results will prove the stats can't judge heart and fight in a person... we all know that yet the starts so give insight... I see the improvement... I look forward to the talent... I look forward to more progress! We still have a long way to go!
 
#19
He can't be put in the 2020 class. He was on the team in 2019, sitting out as a redshirt.

The whole issue with transfers can get muddled. If you are including them in a class calculator, should you subtract players who transfer out? That would include leaving early for any reason. You essentially haven't successfully recruited them to stay.

And for the most part, transfers are usually some other team's backups. If you aren't recruiting well, which is usually why a team can have a spot available for a transfer, how much will adding someone else's backups really improve the win total? I think there is a ceiling there, but I don't know what it is, maybe 7 wins, but that is just a guess.

I think we have a tendency to think that Illinois is doing fantastic recruiting transfers, in part based on the stacked 2019 transfer "class." But there were a lot of special situations with that class that makes me think it won't be repeated.

Does Chase Brown come to Illinois if his twin isn't already on the squad? Maybe, and that goes both ways pertaining to the offer and the acceptance.

Oluwole Betiku Jr.
Josh Imatorbhebhe
Trevon Sidney
Austin Clark and Keynodo Hudson obviously played a huge role in landing these three transfers from USC. Clark is gone and Hudson, having left USC in 2016, won't have the relationships with current players. The likelihood of being able to recruit three highly rated players from a powerhouse like USC is pretty slim going forward.

Illinois lost out on Tommy Stevens and Illinois was Brandon Peters' only P5 offer. I don't feel like Illinois won a recruiting battle here.

Would Luke Ford have transferred to Illinois if his grandfather wasn't ill?

Richie Petitbon was good friends with Reggie Corbin. Would he have come here if Corbin wasn't here? (I think Blake Jeresaty might be an upgrade, though, so kudos to the staff.)

And most of these players didn't live up to their high school rating. I didn't look to see if 24/7 gave any of them a transfer rating, so the transfer class might not even be as stacked as I think.
What you’re saying makes sense, but that’s how a lot of transfer recruiting battles work. Usually they go somewhere the recruit has had a connection too beforehand. On that note we landed former four stars like Eifler, Hightower, and Christian Bell (I know he is going somewhere else) so it’s not like they’re completely washed at getting solid talent in the transfer market.
 
#20
What you’re saying makes sense, but that’s how a lot of transfer recruiting battles work. Usually they go somewhere the recruit has had a connection too beforehand. On that note we landed former four stars like Eifler, Hightower, and Christian Bell (I know he is going somewhere else) so it’s not like they’re completely washed at getting solid talent in the transfer market.
I agree with this, and I'm not saying that they aren't bringing in talent, but we can't rely on high school ratings to evaluate transfer talent. As an example, Eifler didn't make the 2-deep at Washington, and if I recall there was a good chance he wasn't going to start here last fall. But he is still a solid addition.