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Can Lovie Smith convince Chicago recruits to stay in Illinois?

Welcome to The Crootletter (sign up to get this in your inbox every morning!). I'm Bud Elliott, SB Nation's National Recruiting Analyst, and in this space I'll be sharing news, rumors and musings on the world of college football recruiting.

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I'm not sure what to make of Illinois hiring Lovie Smith. As a Bucs fan, I don't have a high opinion of Smith, but college coaching is a different game. If Smith hires a good mix of college experience and energy, perhaps it will work out.

Standards will be important. Illinois has won more then seven games just three times since 1990. And contrary to popular opinion, Illinois is not a sleeping giant. While many assume that someone will find a way to keep the Chicago talent in Illinois, I don't see recruits from Chicago representing the state, but rather the city. It's a unique dynamic. Still, Illinois should do somewhat better in the city than it has over the last quarter century.

One of the first public offers that we know of went to three-star Tampa linebacker Decalon Brooks, the son of NFL Hall Of Famer Derrick Brooks, who Smith coached in Tampa Bay.


Speaking of legacies, South Carolina picked up a commitment from Damani Staley, the son of Duce Staley, a star running back for the Gamecocks and Philadelphia Eagles. The younger Staley is a linebacker.

While Rutgers football does not recruit the state well, some other Scarlet Knights programs do. If new coach Chris Ash can do a better job in-state, Rutgers may look like a decent addition for the Big Ten.

I like Nebraska's pickup of quick Florida linebacker Willie Hampton, who profiles as a true three-down player.


If you're a recent signup or missed a day, that's okay. I link my previous Crootletters in this section.

Here are the top players at the Miami Nike Opening Regional Camp.

What happens during a "junior day?"

Steven Godfrey and I discussed the mechanics and timing of negative recruiting.

How roster balance in recruiting can help with player development at other positions.

Which states kept top talent home the most? Plus, observations about in-state recruiting across the Southeast.