Looks Like University Of Illinois - Casey Washington

Jul 30, 2018

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Truth: I've been wasting time on the internet for nearly two hours avoiding writing this post. I'm so disappointed with how recruiting has gone in June and July and I don't want to write about it because you'll all throw tomatoes. I promised that the Tom Cruise ratings would be the most accurate Illini recruit ratings on the internet, and as I've been adding the Tom Cruise ratings for each player on The 90 Illini I've felt really good about players I thought would flop/players I thought were wildly underrated, so I have to continue down that path.

Peter (and Simon) Cvijanovic's father sent me a 2,000-word email when I rated Peter with one Tom Cruise, and I believe his son turned out to be a one Tom Cruise player. I'm not here to make you feel good about every single recruit and say things like "great upside potential" (although I'd probably sell more subscriptions that way). I'm here to study the schemes, look for the kinds of players the coaching staff needs, and then tell you when I see the staff adding those players.

With this one, I'm not sure I see the staff adding that player. Which, honestly, could just mean that I don't understand the type of receiver that Rod Smith wants. I mean, I thought I understood with the commitments of Fabian McCray and Bryce Childress, and I guess teams do need X receivers and Z receivers, but still, I'm not seeing this one.

And I should revisit The Way I View Football again. I'm a "fit" guy (not a "fit guy"). I believe in it to my core. The biggest difficulty during a coaching change - any coaching change - is the lack of "fit" on the current roster.

We just saw this with basketball. Jalen Coleman-Lands, DJ Williams, Te'Jon Lucas - they weren't "fits" for the Underwood system. They might go on to success at DePaul, GW, and Milwaukee, but for what this coach is looking for, they didn't really fit.

That's probably a bad example because Underwood's roster turnover seemed to be about personality (he wants Trents who can be pushed hard and then pushed hard again) more than anything. Guys like Trent and Da'Monte and AJ play the game the way he wants it to be played.

In football, often it's more about the type of player you are. Just look at defensive end. Tim Banks' scheme had the "Leo" position (a weakside defensive end who will sometimes drop into pass coverage). When Banks arrived in 2012, he didn't have any Leos on the roster - just defensive ends who fit what Vic Koenning wanted to do. So Banks went out and found his guys (Dawuane Smoot, Henry McGrew) and developed them. But then Banks left and when Lovie took over, he needed a different kind of weakside end. Guys like McGrew who were still on the roster and would have been the starter in the old scheme (the 2015 coaches couldn't stop talking about McGrew's potential as a Leo) were moved to offense (McGrew played tight end) and true freshmen were brought in (Isaiah Gay, Owen Carney) to fill the weakside end role for Lovie's D.

Illinois has changed schemes (on both sides of the ball) more than any Big Ten team the last 15 years. Illinois has lost more conference football games than any Big Ten team in the last 15 years. These two tidbits are related.

Which brings us to Washington. And since I just watched the second half of Big this weekend when I flipped past it on TV, I'll go all Josh Baskin: I don't get it.

First off, we have to view him as a player that Kansas was slow-playing. A slow play is "we're interested, but you don't really have any other offers that worry us all that much so we're going to string you along because we're not sure if we want to prioritize you". As long as there's no risk of losing that player, hold off on your offer and pursue your main targets. If another Power Five school does offer? Offer the kid the next day. Which is what happened with Washington and Kansas (they offered the day after his first P5 offer from Illinois).

Why was Kansas - one of the most desperate-for-talent Power Five programs of the last 40 years - slow playing Washington? I think we have to conclude that he's a fringe Power Five player. Now, fringe Power Five players go on to college (and NFL) success all the time. It's a much smaller percentage than the players with multiple P5 offers, but it still happens. And, I should note, I do believe this staff is much better than the last two at spotting talent (if the 2017 class is any indication).

But I'm still not sure I see the fit here. Washington does some nice things on his film (specifically breaking tackles, something I praised Childress for), but he doesn't have the "quicks" I think this offense needs. We've just spent quite some time and effort overhauling the receivers from what Bill Cubit wanted (tall and long like Sam Mays) to what Lovie has wanted (smaller and quicker like Ricky Smalling), so it's odd (for me) to see us go after a Cubit-type receiver.

Again, I might just not be understanding Smith's scheme. He may be looking for a bigger, stronger receiver at one of the spots. That might be why they moved Justice Williams over to WR after Smith was hired (and it might be why they added Washington). They might need mostly Smallings and McCrays... and one or two bigger/stronger/not faster guys. If so, this makes more sense.

But for now, I'm just not seeing it. And as I say every time I write one like this: now go prove me wrong, kid.

Tom Cruises are minimal here. Just can't see much more than 1.5. I was excited for June and July to be a big push after our coaches had hit the road in April and May selling Beason/Williams momentum. That just hasn't happened, which is why I'm in this mood, which is probably why I'm handing out 1.5 Cruises.

Casey Washington - One and one-half Tom Cruises.


neale stoner on July 30, 2018 @ 08:28 AM

Need some WR’s that can block....

ATOillini on July 30, 2018 @ 09:56 PM


I'm going to follow up on your "ceiling" basketball post from the other day. That article focused on a the concept of a single highest rated player. But a great friend off mine (who unfortunately went to WI) and I have been discussing the situation in college football recently. We've come to the conclusion it seems to be arriving at a state similar to college basketball....i.e. a handful of superpowers with maybe another handful in the next group that if things go just right can compete. Just yesterday my friend texted me the following:

"How strong is Ohio State’s national brand in recruiting? The 2018 class has 18 Rivals’ four star, and three five star players. Only four of those 21 are from Ohio."

Being an unknowledgeable rankings person I googled Rivals rankings and found the following from an SB Nation article:

"Here’s how long their odds are to reach various recruiting ratings, using class of 2018 data from Rivals http://rivals.com/, if we settle on 300,000 football-playing seniors as a fair estimate: •33 five-stars, or 0.01 percent of the class •399 four-stars, or 0.13 percent of the class •1,409 three-stars, or 0.47 percent of the class •1,842 two-stars, or 0.61 percent of the class •296,317 unrated, or 98.77 percent of the class"

So if I'm thinking correctly tOSU has 21 of the 432 best recruits? And my friend tells me Georgia has supposedly some even better all-time great class arriving. And we know Saban replaces similar every year.

With that background......What would be your hope along these lines if things actually worked out well with Lovie and it's 5 years from now? What is our ceiling?

ATOillini on July 30, 2018 @ 10:01 PM

Follow up to my comment above regarding Georgia. Text my friend sent me back on July 8:

"Because I was bored for sports, looked at Rivals. UGA has recruited what is being called the best incoming class in history. Eight Rivals five stars, fourteen four stars. Of the eight five stars, four are from Georgia, two from FL...none from the north. Lowest ranking five star #25 high school recruit nationally."

John Case on July 31, 2018 @ 04:14 PM

i saw everything you did except one thing. i see great hands. i discount the breaking tackles on hs film because it rarely translates. this is a possession receiver with nice looking mits who doesnt seperate or make players miss on his junior tape.

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