While Zook took a beating from the fans and media throughout his tenure at Florida, no one questioned his ability to recruit. Zook put most of the pieces in place that
What a difference a year makes. The Illini are 7-3 with two regular-season games remaining. The turnaround can be attributed to Zook's recruiting efforts, and things only look to be getting better.
Zook's recruiting paid off nearly immediately. In 2006, Illinois had the No. 30 class in the nation; last year, the Illini jumped to No. 20. Some of the young talent from that class, including wide receiver
The staff has done a nice job in-state for the most part, keeping three of Illinois' top five prospects at home in each of those first two classes. It helped having prospects like defensive end
Zook hasn't been able to keep most of the state's best players at home this year. Linebackers
Still, Zook has continued to have success recruiting out-of-state prospects. That should come as no surprise, given his track record. How many would have predicted last year that Benn (who is from Washington, D.C.) would come to Illinois, spurning offers from the likes of Miami, Notre Dame and Florida State?
This class has a national feel, with commitments from seven states and the District of Columbia. Safety
Zook has even had success in North Carolina, beating out Louisville, California, Oregon and Iowa for quarterback
It doesn't seem as though there are many distinct patterns when it comes to Illinois' recruiting efforts; everyone is fair game, regardless of location. Zook has put together a staff that has the energy and charisma to beat out some of the nation's most successful programs.
This Illinois class currently is ranked No. 19 nationally, and the Illini have several more scholarships left. In recent years, some of the program's top commitments have come in the two months leading up to National Signing Day. The ability to close strong is a testament to the efforts of the staff, and has given them momentum heading into the next recruiting class. Ohio State and Michigan usually rule the roost in the Big Ten when it comes to recruiting, but watch out for the Illini.