Two 4-star football recruits top Illinois’ list
BY HERB GOULD email@example.com February 6, 2013 12:54PM
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, left, is sacked by Ohio State defensive lineman John Simon during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Updated: February 7, 2013 7:36PM
As Tim Beckman tries to rebuild a program that tumbled to 2-10 in his first season, the Illinois coach welcomed 15 more signees Wednesday.
With five junior-college transfers and five incoming freshmen already on campus, Beckman and his staff will have 25 new players to work with next season.
The Illini class is rated 46th in the nation and seventh in the Big Ten by Rivals.com, which put Illinois ahead of Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“We didn’t win very many games,’’ Beckman said. “But we were still able to get a class that’s in the top half of the country by telling these student-athletes they’ll have opportunities [to play], but they also are going to be taken care of.
‘‘They’re going to be pushed to be the best they can be, on the field and in everything they do in their lives. That’s the importance of a coach or a father.’’
The class is led by two four-star recruits, according to Rivals.com: Aaron Bailey, a 6-2, 215-pound quarterback from Bolingbrook, and Caleb Day, a 6-0, 188-pound athlete from Hilliard, Ohio.
“Aaron Bailey is as good a person as I’ve ever met,’’ Beckman said. “We talked three or four times a week. He’s a winner. He knows what it takes to win. Aaron’s commitment to us shows that he sees a future here. He sees that he can be involved in winning.’’
It’s not clear yet whether Day will line up at receiver or defensive back.
‘‘If Caleb Day can be a receiver that plays a lot, he’ll play receiver,’’ Beckman said. ‘‘But we feel he can be a definite factor for us as a defensive back.’’
Illinois landed 14 three-star recruits, according to Rivals.com, including three JUCOs — receiver Martize Barr, defensive tackle Abens Cajust and offensive lineman Dallas Hinkhouse — who head the list of newcomers likely to have an immediate impact.