Illinois could be setting itself up for signing the best recruiting class under coach Ron Zook, the best since the Mike White era in the early 1980s.
The Illini don't have any major commitments yet but they are in on more big-time prospects this year than ever before. Two years ago, virtually no one was talking about the Illini when I made my trips around the country. Now several top-rated players from Florida and North and South Carolina are mentioning the Illini in a serious tone.
While Zook and his staff are launching a nationwide recruiting campaign, there is one player in Illinois that they should be considering--Michael Buchanan, Homewood-Flossmoor's 6-6, 220-pound defensive end.
I am very impressed with Buchanan. If he concentrates completely on football instead of basketball, he has the potential to be the best player in Illinois. He is very athletic and quick and could be a 260-pounder in college once he begins to concentrate on weight lifting and putting on weight.
Meanwhile, for the first time in memory, the state of Indiana has four Division I quarterbacks wh are beginning to attract attention from a majority of Big Ten schools.
They are Jordan Luallen of Greenwood, a 6-3, 190-pounder who first caught my attention at the U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio last January; Morgan Newton of Carmel, a 6-5, 205-pounder whose father played at Grambling; Dustin Kiel of Columbus, a 6-3, 215-pounder whose uncle Blair was on my 1980 All-America team, played at Notre Dame and played in the NFL for 10 years; and Delapo Macarthy of Merrillville, a 6-6, 210-pounder who is the best prospect to come out of his area since Notre Dame running back James Aldridge.
Indiana normally is known for basketball but this year the Hoosier State could produce 10 to 15 football players that a majority of Big Ten schools will recruit.
Two offensive linemen who are attracting a lot of attention are 6-6, 310-pound Kyle Koehne and 6-6, 270-pound Zach Martin, both of Indianapolis.
After three or four years of producing average to below average talent, Indiana looks like it will have a banner year at a time when most other states in the Midwest are down.