Looks Like University Of Illinois - Jordyn Slaughter
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We'll never know. That's my mantra for every football player who has ever verballed to Illinois before July 1. We'll never know what kind of offer list they would have ended up with. Now, this can be spun into crazy spin, so I have to be careful here, but for the most part, this is why I maintain a July 1 rule. Never give offer list much credence if the player verballed before July 1. I'll attempt to explain.
Tony Adams last year. He camped at Illinois and got an offer on the spot. He then camped at Missouri and got an offer. He took six weeks to think about it and settled on Illinois. Big win over Missouri for a player who turned out to be one of the better players in the St. Louis area.
But what would it have looked like if he accepted on the spot at our camp and never made it to Missouri? What would be our opinion of him? He'd be the same player with the same film, but we'd likely be more "man, no other Power Five offers besides Illinois, that's worrisome" than "YES - beat Mizzou head-to-head for a St. Louis kid". All because he waited.
What about Malik Turner? Committed early to Illinois without any film and very few offers (was injured his junior year of high school), but once he had some senior film out there, the coaches came out of the woodwork to try to flip him. Ohio State, Oregon, Michigan State - everyone chased him in December and January. But he stuck with Illinois (and, perhaps more important to the point I'm trying to make, no scouting service ever caught wind of all those offers, so he was just a guy who picked Illinois over Ball State in June.
Now, it also goes the other way. Chris O'Connor was a camp offer years ago (with no real other offers) and then he didn't pan out as a defensive lineman. He eventually moved to offensive line and did contribute significantly as a senior, but to the point here, he didn't have many offers and there was a reason why. Dillan Cazley committed a year early, we were his only offer, and he didn't pan out. Mike Dudek committed a year early, we were his only offer, he panned out. Valdon Cooper, committed early with no real offers, ended up transferring to Division II. Teddy Karras, committed early with no real offers, eventual NFL draft pick.
For players who commit in the fall and especially the winter (just before signing day), you have a much better idea of what kind of player they'll be based on their offers. There are still kids with mega offers who bust, and kids with no offers who boom (usually senior break-out players you discover), but for the most part, in the second part of the recruiting cycle, if a kid hasn't gotten any offers by December yet he camped everywhere and has a full year of senior film to send out, there's a reason (and if he blew up with all kinds of senior year offers like Kendrick Green, there's a reason). So my rule: only half-pay attention to offers prior to July 1. Because you don't really know if five other P5 offers were coming had he not committed.
Now, this is dangerous information. Any fan can "yeah, well Mikey Dudek panned out so that means (name any player who commits with no high-end offers) will work out". That's not what I'm saying here. Odds are still odds, and landing a 5-star offered by everyone still carries 10 times better odds (that you got yourself a winner) than landing a 3-star at your camp. This is not some blanket "who cares about offers it's June" - it's more "if a player commits before July one, add an asterisk".
Take Jordyn Slaughter. He committed on Friday. Say he pulled a Tony Adams and waited until mid-August to commit, and while waiting, Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Pitt all offered. We'd feel a little better, right? But if he waited until January, and he was still stuck on just Illinois, Toledo, and Bowling Green, we'd feel like we landed a MAC player, right? That's the trick here. When do you know that you're getting a full read on "offers"? Julian Jones was just a guy we flipped from Arkansas State, right? But he got South Carolina, Louisville, and Indiana offers in the fall (before choosing Illinois) so that means he's a little better than we think.
That's the game we play. And so long ago I settled on July 1. Camp season is over, post-camp offers have almost all gone out - THAT'S when you first pay full attention to offers. You still adjust based on what you learn, but July 1 seemed like a good line to draw. Before then, asterisk.
So Jordan Slaughter*. As I said on the radio with Jeremy last week, this feels like Vederian Lowe to me. Big kid, raw, the kind of offensive line athlete they've been focused on the last 15 months, can't teach size. This is not projecting what size the kid might be - it's more recruiting the biggest linemen out there and then teaching them the blocking scheme.
Now, for tackles, I do think Lovie wants to get athletic kids and add weight (like Julian Pearl and Alex Palczewski). For guard though, I think Lovie wants them as large as possible. And I'm thinking he sees Jordyn Slaughter as a guard.
On film, Slaughter looks a little better than raw. It appears he's gone through that jab step drill about 1,500 times (tackle comes out of his stance with hands ready to punch and three quick jab steps to the left). Althoff was probably going to win a state title last year had they not run into their nemesis Rochester (a 48-47 loss in the quarterfinals). He's had solid high school coaching.
Now it will be about developing him into a Big Ten lineman. I probably like his chances a little better than most, given that he fits the mold of what they've said they're looking for. I try to pay attention to that when doing these evaluations (Bill Cubit wanted long, tall, lanky receivers so I gave him bonus points when he found one that fit what he said he wanted), and Slaughter seems to be a Lovie Smith kind of lineman.
Tom Cruises. Going right down the middle with this one. We're the only offer, but I see some things there that suggest he can really contribute down the road. That's a 2.5.
Jordyn Slaughter, two and one half Tom Cruises.