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3 Recruiting Q&As: Auburn, Illinois, Hawaii

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 20, 2014


The Scout publishers from Illinois, Auburn and Hawaii

3 Recruiting Questions With Scout Publishers
- Alabama, Duke, Idaho
- Arkansas, Ball State, Boise State, Florida, Georgia Tech

Illinois
For more, go to IlliniPlaybook.com

1) Is there any sense of panic or desperation on the part of the coaching staff knowing it needs to WIN NOW?

Fletcher Page, from IlliniPlaybook.com - I wouldn’t say there’s panic, but desperation is a tag that might apply. I’m sure more than a few people rolled their eyes when Tim Beckman listed doubling their win total in his post-season comments in December. His statement was true, but going from two wins to four isn’t exactly a sexy trend.

The particulars have mostly been hashed out. The Beckman hire wasn’t exactly met with open arms by the fan base, and Year One was a disaster of epic proportions. Two wins. 10 losses, mostly blowouts. And there were a few unnecessary, embarrassing moments that didn’t include the terrible football being played - the recruitment of Penn State players, Beckman caught using tobacco products on the sideline and getting run over by a referee against Northwestern.

Year Two though saw massive improvement, especially on offense under coordinator Bill Cubit. The Illini won a conference game for the first time in two calendar years and could have won two or three more that were close late.

Now entering the third year, the expectation is to win more conference games and get back to a bowl. People don’t believe me, but I think it’s reasonable to predict this to happen. Six wins is absolutely a possibility, and the staff is working hard to get there.

2) What’s the calling card? What about the Tim Beckman regime has helped with recruits?

A few things… A) Bill Cubit’s offense is pass-happy, exciting and enticing for wide receivers and multiple purpose running backs. B) The staff hasn’t run from the negative aspects. Poor performance in the past means there are opportunities for new players in the future. It’s the classic shed-light-on-your-weaknesses-to-make-them-a-positive philosophy. At least 10 true freshmen played in 2013. That’s proof that the staff is willing to put the best players out there, regardless of class or experience level. C) Beckman and recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach Alex Golesh have a proven track record of hitting player evaluations square on the head. Some of those true freshmen that played last season weren’t highly rated and recruited by every Big Ten school. More times than not, you’d rather not rely on diamonds in the rough to get you through, but this staff has done a good job of digging out a few sleepers so far.

3) What’s the No. 1 need the team needs to fill?

Defensive line. While we’re at it, offensive line, too. That’s where this program is drastically behind its conference counterparts. Illinois simply hasn’t been able to compete in the battle in the trenches. Skill guys are a dime a dozen, and you can scheme, to a certain degree, around issues in those areas. It’s not like that on the line, not on either side of the ball. That’s where those hidden gems suddenly don’t appear, for the most part. Illinois has to get better, bigger and more skilled on the lines. It’s a big boy conference. That’s just the way it is.

Auburn
For more, go to AUTigers.com

1) How much did the offensive explosion perk up interest from skill position recruits?

Mark Murphy, AUTigers.com - Many of the commitments for the 2014 class were already on board before the 2013 season started. However, the big season offensively certainly helped solidify commitments even though there were high expectations going into the season opener that the offense would be much better because of Gus Malzahn’s previous history of success.

2) What is Gus Malzahn doing differently than Gene Chizik did?

In addition to bringing in a new coaching staff, Malzahn changed the offense back to what had worked for the Tigers when he was offensive coordinator and switched to a much more aggressive style of play defensively. The personnel he inherited, with a lot of good athletes on campus, suited the new offensive and defensive systems.

As head coach Malzahn leaned heavily on his seniors and other veteran players to provide leadership on and off the field, and the team responded very well to that. The 2013 Tigers were a very “together” type of team that developed an outstanding work ethic. That explains why the Tigers improved from spring training to the first month of the season and kept improving the more they played. Auburn was a much better team at the end of the season than when it started.

3) What’s the No. 1 need the team needs to fill?

A key area for the 2014 signee class is bringing in help in the secondary. The Tigers were not deep at safety or cornerback going into the season and had to work around injuries to key players at those spots. The Tigers have talented defensive backs on the way in the recruiting class and the same is true at linebacker, another area of need.

Offensively, there isn’t one area that stands out as the major need with 19 players returning from the two-deep depth chart, but it is important to replace players who are graduating this year and next year. It looks like Malzahn and his staff are going to be able to take care of those needs.

Hawaii
For more, go to WarriorSportsNetwork.com

1) Are local players interested in playing for Norm Chow after the lack of success?

Harrison Goo, WarriorSportsNetwork.com - As far as local players go, I think there's always an appeal to playing at home, close to home. Particularly because family is so important here in the islands and, just practically, its logistically hard for families to go see games if their kids go to school somewhere on the mainland. I know that one of the prize recruits in the upcoming class, Larry Tuileta, felt that way, and told me in no uncertain terms, that he wanted to "build something" here with some of the other guys who chose to play at UH. Now, sure, the lack of success might deter some kids who might have been compelled to stay. Still, I don’t think it's ultimately a deal breaker. Kids who want to stay home, will, and this applies to any school/area.

2) Are offensive players looking at Hawaii the same way they did a few years ago?

I think the short answer to that is "no," but it's hard to say because I'm not sure UH ever actually got any more talented offensive players during the June Jones era – when the program was at or near the top in the nation in total offense - than it has right now. The reason for this is because college football, even in the stodgy, old SEC, has transformed into a more spread, wide-open system, so players don’t necessarily need to look at Hawaii, or even, say a school like Texas Tech, to find a place to go for stats. Because truly talented NFL guys on offense were few and far between - Ashley Lelie, Davone Bess, Jason Rivers, Colt Brennan - their appearance on the field for was more coincidence and luck than it was the product of the system that June ran.

3) What’s the No. 1 need the team needs to fill?

Quarterback – by far. This seems like a no-brainer response except that if you look at JUST the numbers, Sean Schroeder - who started most of the games for us last year - looked pretty good. Still, when you actually watched the games you saw that UH left a TON of points out on the field, a testament to both the room for growth at QB, as well as to the talent that the team has at its skill positions around him. Wideout in particular, I think, will be a strength, with Vasquez Haynes and Keith Kirkwood coming back and Ammon Barker and Marcus Kemp a year older. They'll just need someone to get them the ball. Will that be Taylor Graham, or Aaron Zwahlen, or Larry Tuileta? The Warriors will probably need spring ball to tell for sure. I just know that one of them needs to step up if UH is going to win more than one game next season.

3 Recruiting Questions With Scout Publishers
- Alabama, Duke, Idaho
- Arkansas, Ball State, Boise State, Florida, Georgia Tech