Illinois, Notre Dame and Northwestern fans get flustered because they want their football teams to accumulate a lot of early commitments. Fans of every school want to see action early. If not, they get impatient, not realizing it is a long recruiting season. The goal is to get the best players, not to get as many early commitments as possible.
At the moment, Illinois has three commitments--lineman Shawn Afryl of Niles West, quarterback Chandler Whitmer of Downers Grove South and safety Corey Cooper of Proviso East. Notre Dame has five commitments, including offensive lineman Christian Lombard of Fremd. Northwestern has no commitments at all.
But local fans get out of sorts when they learn that Texas as 19 commitments, Alabama 15, LSU 13, Florida 12, Oklahoma 11 and USC eight.
They think their schools are falling behind, that they'll never catch up, that the elite programs are gathering all the top prospects. They don't understand that it means nothing unless you are signing a quality player. And most of the elite athletes wait until January or February to commit.
What you need to know is many of the players who commit early are the ones who don't have a lot of options, maybe only one or two scholarship offers. Patience is the key word in being a fan of the recruiting process. Patience often is rewarded on signing day.
The Big 10 has suffered in the recruiting process in the past because, unlike the more dominant SEC or Big 12, conference members usually complete their recruiting before the players finish their senior seasons. Consequently, they can't recruit kids who are late bloomers and have outstanding senior years because they have filled their recruiting classes. For whatever reason, the Big 10 is guilty of this practice more than any other major conference.
Remember, June is the most important month for offers. Kids who have only one or two offers attend one-day camps in June. If you have no offers by July 1, then it is time to worry and to get aggressive in the recruiting process. If you don't have an offer by then, there must be a reason why. Maybe you have to cut your dreams down. Not everybody can play in the Big 10 or SEC. Look at the MAC or Gateway Conference.
If you go to a one-day camp and you don't receive an offer but the coach says they will watch you during the season, it means they are dropping you but they don't want to tell you face-to-face. If you believe a coach is stringing you along, ask pointed questions. If they say you are the No. 4 running back on their chart, ask who the other three are.
At this time, the recruiting game is starting to get serious. Put on your game face.