Spring practice is finished, and the recruiting cycle for the 2014 class is well under way. With the first quarter of the recruiting calendar behind us, here's a look at how the Big Ten is faring on the trail.
Who they have: The Illini began their 2014 class with some solid momentum back in early March. Their first two commitments pledged on the same day about an hour apart. Centerville (Ohio) High defensive lineman Tito Odenigbo was pledge No. 1 for Illinois. It should be a familiar name as his older brother, 2012 ESPN 150 lineman Ifeadi Odenigbo, was also pursued by the Illini. Three-star Nick Allegretti (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), the No. 6 center nationally, committed not long after Odenigbo on March 11. Receiver Mike Dudek was commit No. 3 and was a heavy lean to the Illini the minute they offered. Illinois landed one more commit, quarterback Chayce Crouch (Newark, Ohio/Newark Catholic), on the first day of May.
Who they want: Illinois coach Tim Beckman is making some strides in recruiting, but the Illini are still struggling mightily in-state. They need to keep the top in-state players at Illinois. ESPN 150 linebackers Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) and Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) are not paying much attention to Illinois. The same goes for Jamarco Jones (Chicago/De La Salle) and Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook). ESPN 150 linebacker Kyron Watson (East St. Louis, Ill./East St. Louis) is high on the Illini, however. In-state prospects Nile Sykes (Lombard/Montini Catholic), Eric Shute (Glen Ellyn/Glenbard West) and Jauan Wesley (Harvey/Thornton) are also interested in Illinois.
Spring storyline: Beckman was considered an ace recruiter at Toledo, and what could get the ball rolling for Illinois is how well its top 2013 signee, quarterback Aaron Bailey, does in Champaign.
Bold prediction: The Illini will land a few solid prospects out of Ohio once again, and they will hold on to them (see: Reon Dawson, 2013). -- Jared Shanker
Scouts' overall trend: Down. The Illini have posted no ranked classes since 2008. Lack of playmakers and a poor perception of the program by prospects has hindered their recruiting efforts. They can sell playing time, though, as 2013 DE Paul James III will likely play as a true freshman. -- Tom Luginbill