Author Topic: ATN Podcast: Overconfident bozos read your mailbag questions  (Read 451 times)

Offline linlybest

ATN Podcast: Overconfident bozos read your mailbag questions
« on: January 20, 2018, 05:45:21 pm »
Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Hope everybody had a great weekend. I spent time with Loren Tate and Steve Kelly in Evanston. Thanks to Loren's daughter and son in law for putting us up. Very hospitable.

It was nice to see Wes Lunt end his career with a strong game. But the turnovers killed any chance Illinois had to pull the upset.

I believe Josh Whitman will give John Groce every chance to succeed this year on the court. If the team contends for an NCAA tournament berth and is competitive in the Big Ten, Groce will be back. But if the early season troubles continue, Whitman will have to strongly consider a change,

Ron Guenther, who is Whitman's AD mentor, always had a list of candidates ready for all spots. Coaching and beyond. My guess is that Whitman operates the same way. And like Guenther he is going to support his coaches as much as he possibly can.

Based on how Whitman got the Lovie Smith hire done, he is able to move very quietly if he wants to consider other options.

As for candidates, I've got two that I will throw out there as fun "long shots." Former Illini Roger Powell, who will be a head coach at some point, is one. And former Rantoul star Kareem Richardson is another. He is off to a good start at UMKC.

This is all moot if the Illini get better this season. Whitman wants to keep Groce if he can justify it.

I think Lovie Smith and his staff will look at all levels for players. They have to. There is great football being played at the smaller football jerseys wholesale schools. I think we saw that in the state finals. From 1A to 8A, the guys are talented.

To be a success long term, Lovie Smith and his staff have to convince the high school coaches and players in the state that they are tbe top prioirity. Getting players from Ohio and Florida is fine, but the base on the team has to be home grown. Illinois has an advantage over some of the other schools in the Big Ten that don't have the same amount of talent.

If Illinos can land half of the Top 25 players in the state that will be a start. If it can get more that will be better. Right now, it is an uphill battle, but Ron Zook showed that Illinois can get many of the best from the state.

On building the roster, Lovie Smith talked the last week about how much he wants to improve the walk on program. I think he is very serious about it. That will be part of recruiting this spring and beyond. Illinois needs to add both scholarship players and land some walk ons with potential.

Another important but overlooked factor in recruiting is player retention. The coaches have to bring in players who will stick around when times are tough and they aren't playing as much. I want to watch the roster this spring and see how many players Illinois is able to keep. I always felt like Tim Beckman and Bill Cubit recruited high character guys. That will serve the new staff well.

When I wrote the Player of the Year story, I asked about recruiting. The sense I got was that Jeff Thomas wants to stay close to home. If that is the case and he is really down to Illinois and Alabama, then he will come to Champaign. Terry Hawthorne is a very good guy and is loyal to Illinois, but he also isn't going to push Jeff Thomas to a school. He wants the player to make his own decision, which is a great attitude.

I think Lovie Smith helps a lot with Jeff Thomas, who wants to play in the NFL. Smith can sell Thomas on his own past and his connections to pro football.

Jeff Thomnas is a special player who would have an immediate impact at Illiinois. Early prediction: If he signs, he starts the opener against Ball State. If he goes to Alabama, he might be just another great player in a locker room full of them.

I will double check, but I think you are right about the number of recruits a school can sign in one class. Actually, the back signing number might be whatever you didn't wholesale jerseys use the previous year as long as you can get them in in at the semester.

Receiver is a priority in this class. There is talent among the players who have already committed and the staff will make room for Jeff Thomas,

What Illinois really needs is balance in the class. It can't sign 10 offensive linemen because that will create a logjam down the road. But five to six offensive linemen, a quarterback or two and a handful of defensive linemen and linebackers seems reasonable. This will be new to Lovie Smith in terms of college, but he had to put together a balanced roster in the NFL. The good thing about college is that payroll isn't a factor. He wants the best players. Period.

Another good thing about players today is that they are oftentimes versatile. cheap wholesale jerseys The ight end you sign might be a defensive end or linebacker in the future. Same with DBs and receivers. Lovie Smith has to find a way to get the most out of the entire roster. Again, his NFL experience helps.

Thanksgiving was great. My wife's family is full of awesome cooks. My family too.

There will be some for sure. The question is whether or not that number is small or large. It is a two sided deal. The coaches will talk to some of the players and suggest their future playing time will be limited. What the coaches can't do is yank scholarships. What I want to see is if any prominent players, who are likely starters in 2017, decide to leave. That would be a bad sign for the current cheap jerseys staff.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn is in a tough spot. He has been passed on the depth chart by guys who are coming back. If he wants to play, he probably has to go. It's a shame because I thought he had a chance to be one of greats in program history. It didn't work for some reason. I asked to talk to him late in the year, but he wasn't available.

There were other potential transfers I heard during the year, but I won't believe it until the player tells me personally. The off season meetings with the coaches will be critical. It would be great to be a fly on the wall for some of those.

After watching how Lovie Smith operates. I think he will be direct with the players. That's a good thing, but might lead to more departures.

There also is a chance that Illinois will bring in some transfers. A quarterback seems likely. Maybe a couple other spots. Another Hardy Nickerson type player would provide a boost.

Hopefully 2016 was rock bottom and the Illini will improve from here on out. Wouldn't you say that as a recruiting priority, that size on both sides of the ball is a must? You can't run the ball and control the clock while you being pushed around at the line of scrimmage can you? Likewise your defensive line can't be pushed around the whole game either. Seems like commits Lowe and Boyd have good size for starters. Also read an article that the Illini are still in on some high profile prospects. Do you have any names, and is it a plus that the coaches have more time to recruit without having to prep for a bowl game?

You must have been reading Loren Tate's columns. He writes about line play all the time. You both are right, In order for Illinois to compete with even the middle of the Big Ten. it must get stronger and more athletic up front. Watching a string of games last weekend, it was obvious that Illinois is behind. How many of the current Illini starters could play at Ohio State or Michigan or Iowa or Wisconsin? After Dawuane Smoot and Carrooll Phillips that number is low.