By Michael O'Brien

Martez Wilson, Josh Brent, D'Angelo McCray headed to Illinois

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Illinois is in good position to land three of the nation's top football prospects within the next 10 days, a Christmas present that would give coach Ron Zook one of the top 20 recruiting classes in the nation...

According to Chicago-based recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CSTV, the Illini will obtain an oral commitment from 6-4, 260-pound defensive end D'Angelo McCray of Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday. McCray, who originally committed to Florida, is rated as the No. 44 player in the country.

On Dec. 20, at a scheduled press conference at Simeon, Zook is expected to get commitments from Simeon's Martez Wilson and 6-3, 300-pound defensive lineman Josh Brent of Bloomington Central Catholic.

Wilson, a 6-4, 232-pound defensive end/wide receiver who is rated as the No. 15 player in the nation, canceled a trip to Ohio State last weekend to visit Illinois. He also cancelled a home visit with Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis on Monday and cancelled a trip to Michigan next weekend.

‘‘Recruiting is show business,��? Lemming said. “Illinois is trying to make a big splash, like Notre Dame did with Jimmy Clausen's (the nation's top-rated player) announcement on ESPN. Timing is everything in recruiting. And Illinois is trying to make a big impact.��?

The Illini already have a commitment from Arrelious Benn of Washington, D.C., the top-rated wide receiver in the country and the No. 9 player on Lemming's list.

They still are in the mix for defensive lineman Marvin Austin of Washington, D.C., who is rated as the No. 1 player in the nation by and No. 2 by Lemming, and running back Robert Hughes of Hubbard, who also is considering Notre Dame.

Two others who are giving Illinois another look are offensive linemen Arthur Ray Jr., of Mount Carmel and Jack Cornell of Quincy Notre Dame. Ray originally committed to Boston College but began to reconsider when coach Tom O'Brien left for North Carolina State. Cornell, who had committed to Michigan State, reopened his recruiting when coach John L. Smith was fired.

‘‘By getting Wilson, McCray and Brent, Illinois' recruiting class will move to No. 3 in the Big 10 behind Michigan and Ohio State,��? Lemming said. ‘‘And they will move into the top 20 nationally.��?

But Lemming cautions not to take anything for granted in recruiting until the ink is dry and the athlete arrives on campus, especially with the wave of de-commitments in recent years.

‘‘Look at Martez Wilson, for example. He says he wants to be a linebacker one day, then a wide receiver the next. And the colleges recruiters try to tell him what he wants to hear,��? Lemming said. ‘‘You can never say never in this business because kids tend to change their minds every week.��?

On Monday Zook received a comitment from Hubbard defensive back Darius Purcell.

-Taylor Bell

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How does he do it?

Mr. Zook PLEASE give Bruce Weber some recruiting tips!

Note: this is a comment on most recent article comparing McCray recruitment to E. Gordon

Your article about the recruitment of D'Angelo McCray was inaccurate and reminds of the anti-Illinois bias present. There are several important differences between E. Gordon's and McCray's, most importantly that McCray had formally decomitted from Florida, rendering his recruitment open to all schools, not just Illinois. His recruitment was open for months and this was known on every major scouting website. His decommitment from Florida had nothing to do with Ron Zook. You will not hear Florida fans upset about this because this process was done appropriately and respectfully. In fact, Urban Meyer is complimentary of Ron Zook.

The whole Sampson-Gordon saga was based on a player committed already to a University who was recruited despite his prior oral commitment. His commitment was not open and he was contacted by one coach only, K. Sampson. In addition, Gordon reaffirmed his allegiance to the University of Illinois muliple times, unlike McCray who clearly let everyone know his attention.

Indecision is common in any person at this age. However, there is a right and a wrong way of going about it. I find that smearing the reputation and ethics of a promising athelete who committed to the University of Illinois (McCray) by comparing him to an athelete who thinks of no one else but himself (Gordon) is uncalled for.

As the writer on this article, and the main writer for the Illini fan base in the Suntimes, you take responsibility for the slander and inaccuracies reported in this article. Please note that I will not be renewing my subscription in 2007as a direct result of this article.

This is just rediculous. Following an incredibly pathetic football season in 2006, the University of Illinois is receiving all of these top tier football players. Now why would an athlete turn down a scholarship fro shools like the Ohio State University, Nortre Dame, and the such? Why would they want to go to an Illinois team that showed how poorly coached they were last season? I'll tell you why. It is because Mr. Ron Zook could possibly be the dirtiest head football coach in all of the NCAA. I do not see what is so appealing about Illinois football to these recruits. This leads me to believe that there is some money involved in the deal. Ron Zook can recruit because he is dirty, but he can't coach for his life. Look what he did to Florida. He almost destroyed that team, luckily they received a great coach in Urban Meyer.

For the last blogger, I think that has to be one of the most ridiculous statments I have ever read/heard. To call a coach dirty because he gets one of your team's recruits is just sad. Jealosy does not equal dirty. And look what he did to Florida. He didn't destroy them, he gave the school a team in the national championship game. 19 of the 22 starters are due to Zook. And what does Illinois offer? Right, they have been a high school team for a while, but they are improving. They had a top 25 defense and an offense that needs an offensive line and recievers to catch to be good. Illinois promises these studs early playing time in probably the best conference (which should have three teams in the BCS). So get your facts straight and don't let your loss of these players to YOUR team cause you to run you mouth with stupid comments.

Matt, ur a moron. There is money involved its just that Illinois is an up and coming program that will make a lot of noise in the next couple of years and ur just jealous.

For all you guys thinking that there is money involved, you're probably right there is Money probably going around, but not soo much with Illinois. The Illini already got busted for supposedly paying a player under the Ron Turner Era, that raised a red flag with the NCAA for them to place Illinois on probation and estabish a investigation. Now with Illinois they weren't that bad of a football team, for crying out loud, they went to the spread offense with players that were recruited for a west coast style offense, do you ever wonder why Brock Bolen transefered? BECAUSE HE WAS A FULLBACK!!!! OK, He knew he wasnt going to be able to shine and get a whole lot of carries!!! Now with Benn come on think about it!!! The Illinois receivers are not that good, however Juice has a freakin' cannon of a arm, why not go to Illinois where there is a decent QB and immediately start? Ron Zook is not the dirtiest coach in the nation, whoever thinks that is fool. That award goes to the Ohio State University, the Tressel and Matta crew.

Martez Wilson is my cousin. I'm extremely proud that someone in the family is doing something positive. KEEP GOING MARTEZ!!!!!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael O'Brien published on December 11, 2006 11:59 PM.

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