With less than 2 months remaining until the Illinois Fighting Illini football team takes the field against Youngstown State, Tim Beckman’s staff is about to be without an offensive line coach.
A report from footballscoop.com first submitted today stated the following:
“Per source, Illinois offensive line coach AJ Ricker will join the Missouri staff in the same role. Ricker takes over for Bruce Walker who recently decided to retire.”
While this move doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface, it becomes much clearer when taking into account that Ricker played his collegiate football at Missouri from 2000-2003.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this situation as it pertains to the upcoming season.
It’s a big loss at an inopportune time because very good offensive line coaches are a difficult commodity to find. It becomes even tougher when taking into account the compressed time before Camp Rantoul, and ultimately the season.
Then, you have the potential impact on recruiting. So, let’s a take a quick spin through the 247 website and check out how many of the 2015 recruits were primarily recruited by AJ Ricker.
- Gabe Megginson – Primary = Greg Colby, Secondary = AJ Ricker
- Zeke Martin – Primary = AJ Ricker
- Adam Solomon – Primary = Tim Banks, Secondary = AJ Ricker
- Zach Heath – Primary = Alex Golesh, Secondary = AJ Ricker
Gabe Megginson, in particular, is the big in state OL commitment that will likely be on the minds of most Illini fans, but he has already discussed the situation with Josh Getzoff from WICD, and it appears Ricker’s exit is not going to affect Megginson’s commitment.
2015 #Illini commit Gabe Megginson tells me he loves Ricker, but him leaving doesn’t change anything: “I love the University of Illinois.”
— Josh Getzoff (@JGetzoffWICD) July 9, 2014
Of the other three commitments, only Zeke Martin had Ricker listed as his primary recruiter so touching base with him seemed like the right thing to do.
Martin reaffirmed what Megginson had already told Getzoff when he said, “Yea, I talked to Gabe and Adam and we all decided it’s the school, fans, and history we are investing in, not one coach. Although he was a big part in my recruiting process, and it would have been nice to be coached by him, I wish him the best of luck.”
Martin went on to say that he had spoken to Coach Cubit and Coach Beckman today, and they are already working on finding Ricker’s replacement.
In IlliniHQ’s article confirming Ricker’s exit, Matt Daniels had the chance to talk to Coach Cubit who stated the following with regards to finding a replacement this late in the summer:
“When you get this late in the year, it gets a little bit of slim pickings,” Cubit said. “We’ll make it work.”
They have no other choice than to “make it work” because it’s crunch time and the most important season of Tim Beckman’s tenure at Illinois is about to begin.
Thankfully, it seems that there will be no attrition with the current offensive line commitments as a result of Ricker’s departure.