The good news is Illinois has offered scholarships to more good prospects than any other school, especially in the traditionally fertile recruiting states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and the Carolinas.
The bad news is one of coach Ron Zook's first commitments doesn't appear to be as committed as he hoped he would be.
Illinois is leading the nation in offers, at least 150, and the list includes of the top five quarterbacks in the nation, the best player and the best offensive lineman in Pennsylvania and four highly rated prospects at the top producing football program in the Midwest.
John Simon of Youngstown, Ohio, a 6-4, 270-pound defensive tackle with 4.7 speed, is the No. 1 player in his state. He has committed to Ohio State over Notre Dame.
But Illinois has offered the No. 2 prospect in Ohio, 6-5, 300-pound offensive lineman Marcus Hall, and three of his teammates from coach Ted Ginn's football factory at Cleveland Glenville--5-10, 175-pound defensive back Michael Edwards, 6-1, 210-pound linebacker Travis Freeman and 6-2, 220-pound linebacker Jonathan Newsome.
Hall, a 5-star player, also has been offered by every Big 10 shool except Northwestern. Newsome also has been offered by Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue. Edwards also has been offered by Indiana. Thomas said Illinois has indicated it will make an official offer soon.
Melvin Fellows, a 6-5, 245-pound defensive end from Garfield Heights, Ohio, who is rated the No. 1 player in his state by one Ohio recruiting service, originally committed to Illinois. But he has visited Ohio State and Michigan State and said he plans to visit other schools.
In my view, Fellows remains uncommitted. It can't be considered a commitment in the true sense of the word if he is visiting other schools. He has a college build and a lot of potential. But I have talked to high school coaches in Cleveland who don't believe he is the best player in Ohio.
Meanwhile, Tom Savage, a 6-5, 230-pound quarterback from Philadelphia, has been offered by Illinois and every Big 10 school except Michigan. He is one of the top five quarterbacks in the country.
Zook invited coach Mike DeAntona of Scranton, Pa., to speak at the Illinois high school football coaches clinic in Champaign on Saturday. DeAntona brought along two of his players whom Illinois has offered, 6-5, 290-pound Eric Shrive, the best offensive lineman in Pennsylvania, and 5-11, 200-pound fullback Shawn Bodtman.
In Pennsylvania, Illinois also has offered 6-0, 180-pound defensive back E.J. Banks of Pittsburgh, 6-2, 180-pound wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes of Philadelphia, 6-4, 248-pound defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell of Steel Valley, 6-3, 205-pound defensive back Todd Thomas of Beaver Falls, 6-7, 270-pound offensive tackle Nick Kindler of Camp Point and 6-1, 180-pound wide receiver Corey Brown and 6-1, 225-pound linebacker Dorian Bell of Monroeville.
Bell, my choice as the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania, has 49 offers, including Illinois and all major schools. He is one of the top three linebackers in the country and reminds me of former Florida State star Derrick Brooks when he was coming out of the Florida Panhandle.
Thomas, one of the best safeties in the country, has 17 offers, including Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa and Michigan. Brown as 31 offers, includiang Illinois, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Kindler has been offered by Illinois and West Virginia.
Illinois lost 6-2, 185-pound cornerback Justin Turner of Massillon, Ohio, who chose Michigan over Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan State. Stokes committed to Tennessee.
Notre Dame landed its first commitment--6-4, 220-pound tight end Jack Golic of West Hartford, Conn., a 3-star player who is the son of former Notre Dame star and ESPN's Mike Golic.