Nearly as soon as it was announced yesterday that Ty Isaac had been released from his commitment to USC, Illinois Fighting Illini football fans began asking whether or not his final destination might be Champaign-Urbana.
According to an article by Mike Helfgot of the Chicago Tribune, the possibility is very real. Isaac told Helfgot that he had personally talked to both Michigan and Illinois already, and he does not intend to draw this process out, but he stopped short of listing any type of favorite to land his services.
“I wouldn’t say I have a top three, but I’m looking at Big Ten schools that are close to where I live,” Isaac said.
So, without listing an actual top 3, one would be left to assume based off that statement that Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, and possibly even Wisconsin are in the mix. There is also a dark horse that doesn’t meet the Big Ten portion of his statement, but during his initial recruiting process was in his top three along with Michigan and USC, and that’s Notre Dame.
There are conflicting reports whether or not USC filed their restrictions limiting Notre Dame from being an option on time, but simply dismissing them because they aren’t in the Big Ten would be foolish. If he liked them enough to put them in his top three last time, then there’s no reason to discount them now.
How do the Illini stack up against those other schools though, and what type of shot do they have to land Isaac?
As we all know by now, the Illini haven’t posted gaudy win totals during the first two years of Tim Beckman’s tenure, and until recently recruits with high star rankings have looked elsewhere. That said, the offense is beginning to fire quite nicely under Bill Cubit, and they appear to be on a major upward trend with regards to the 2015 recruiting class as a result.
Couple that recent success, both offensively and in the recruiting world, with the lack of overall depth at the running back position and there are carries to be had almost immediately should Isaac choose to come to Illinois.
Securing a commitment from Ty Isaac would be yet another major step for a program that is gaining steam with each passing day.
It’s not going to be easy to beat out programs that have had success more recently, but the Illini are definitely in the mix. Where he winds up is anyone’s guess, but at least Illinois has a fighting chance, and that’s more than anyone would have expected even just one short season ago.