Illinois, Northwestern and Northern Mark Football’s National Signing Day with Recruits

Yesterday was National Signing Day, and as one would expect the traditional college football powerhouses extended their on-field dominance to recruiting success.  The top-5 recruiting schools were Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Ole Miss.  Local programs were left to get the best of the rest to potentially contribute in 2013.

The Fighting Illini got the biggest snag of the bunch with dual-threat QB Aaron Bailey (Bollingbrook). In addition to this 4-star recruit, the Illini got Caleb Day (Ohio), who runs a 4.5/40 yard dash and is considered top-10 at his position.  Illinois was expected to underperform the BIG10 recruiting pool but instead seems to have overachieved to suggest the possibility that new coach Tim Beckman might be able to cobble together a team that could be compete for a bowl berth.

The last time the Illini had a dual-threat quarterback of Bailey’s ability was when Isaiah “Juice” Williams was leading Ron Zook’s offense and Rashard Mendenhall was running it right into the Rose Bowl. For now though Bailey will have to wait his turn as he will most likely enter the season as the backup to Nathan Scheelhaase.  Illinois really has nowhere to go but up since finishing last season losing nine in a row, which included the season finale embarassment by Northwestern, 50-14.

As for Northwestern, they also received a big boost in the QB position that is already strong. Matt Alviti (Maine South High School, Park Ridge) was considered the 11th best QB in the country and he saw Coach Fitzgerald’s program as a perfect fit.  As well, the ability of Offensive Coordinator/ QB coach Mick McCall to develop Alviti at the position had to be attractive.  Alviti’s skill sets complement those of incumbent Kain Colter, so the future appears smooth and bright.   Fitzgerald also may have gotten his O-line support for the future with two top-10 players in Tyler Lancaster and Brad North.  It’s hard not to expect NU to remain in bowl game cpontention with Coltor returning for his senior season and the team coming of its best season under Fitzgerald that culminating in a win over the SEC.

Interestingly, the Northern Illinois Huskies managed to tap their remarkable Orange Bowl appearance for only two 3-star recruits.  While Northern Illinois was shellacked by FSU, there otherwise successful season didn’t seem to give their recruiting program the expected boost.  The Huskies will be hard pressed to repeat their success even with the return of MAC player-of-the-year Jordan Lynch, who towards the end of the season was getting whispered consideration in Heisman or O’Brien circles.