Offensive coordinator and chief recruiter Mike Locksley's decision to leave coach Ron Zook's staff and became the new head coach at New Mexico could have some immediate consequences for Illinois recruiting.
Locksley is an excellent recruiter, one of the top 20 in the country. He has a knack for establishing a rapport with recruits. He dominated the Washington D.C./Maryland area. He landed Arrelious Benn and Vontae Davis, two of Illinois' best players. It will be difficult to attract prospects from that area without him.
For example, Locksley was close to two of the top 100 players in the country, offensive lineman Peter White and linebacker Jelani Jenkins, both from the Washington D.C./Maryland region. They are expected to announce their commitments at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio next month. Illinois is in the mix for both of them but the loss of Locksley could hurt.
What Illinois needs to do to fill the gap left of Locksley's departure is to hire a good recruiter who can go into his own area, no matter where it is, and make a difference, as Locksley did in Washington D.C./Maryland.
An ugly rumor that surfaced on Illini radio the other day had former Illinois coach Mike White coming back to Champaign-Urbana. I wonder how athletic director Ron Guenther would react to that scenario.
Remember, White took Illinois to the Rose Bowl in 1983. But he also was charged with major recruiting violations in 1983 and 1987 by the NCAA. For those indiscretions, Illinois was placed on probation. In fact, it came close to receiving a death penalty. I don't think the Illini want to tread down that path again.