Illini Add to Star-Studded Recruiting Class

Lovie Smith and staff’s 2019 class of 13 players has highest player average in online recruiting era

 

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – University of Illinois head football coach Lovie Smith announced Wednesday the signing of two student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during first day of the February signing period.

 

The two new Illini, linebackers Tarique Barnes and Shammond Cooper, join 11 student-athletes that signed NLIs during the new early signing period in December in the talent-loaded class of 2019.

 

Signing Class Notes (as of 2/6/19 at 2 pm)

» The class includes 13 players total: five from the state of Illinois, three from Missouri (all from St. Louis), three from Texas, one from Florida and one from Tennessee.

» Average recruit rating of .8679 by 247Sports is the highest rated Illini class in the online recruiting era (since 2002). Previous high was the 2009 class (.8561).

» The 2019 class ranks 31st in the nation by average recruiting ranking, the highest Illinois class since 2007 (30th).

» The current class also ranks seventh in the Big Ten by average, the highest since 2008 (sixth).

» 2019 signees DB Marquez Beason (247sports rating of .9564, No. 99) and QB Isaiah Williams (247sports rating of .9479, No. 116), are the highest rated Illini recruits since DB Terry Hawthorne in 2009 (No. 72), and the highest duo since Arrelious Benn (No. 12) and Martez Wilson in 2007 (No. 15).

» 2019 QB recruit Isaiah Williams (.9502, No. 109) is the highest ranked quarterback signee since Isiah Juice Williams in 2006 (.9702, No. 69)

» 2019 LB recruit Shammond Cooper (.9027, No. 286) is the highest ranked linebacker signee since Martez Wilson in 2007 (.9926, No. 15)

» The class is balanced, with six offensive players (1 QB, 2 RB, 1 WR, 1 TE, 1 OL) and seven defensive players (3 DL, 2 LB, 2 DB).

» All 13 signees are expected to enroll at Illinois in summer 2019.

 

2019 FEBRUARY SIGNEES (2)

Name                                     Pos.           Ht.              Wt.               Hometown/High School                                                                                    

Tarique Barnes                       LB              6-1             220              Memphis, Tenn./Cordova

Shammond Cooper                 LB              6-2             205              St. Louis, Mo./Trinity Catholic

 

2019 EARLY SIGNEES (11)

Name                                     Pos.            Ht.              Wt.               Hometown/High School/Last College                                                 

Marquez Beason                     DB              5-11           175              Duncanville, Texas/Duncanville

Seth Coleman                         DL              6-5             200              Melbourne, Fla./Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

Kyron Cumby                          RB              5-8             175              Plano, Texas/Plano

Nick Fedanzo                          RB              6-0             200              Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic

Evan Kirts                              OL              6-5             250              Evergreen Park, Ill./Brother Rice

Griffin Moore                          TE              6-4             225              Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington

Moses Okpala                         DL              6-7             250              St. Louis, Mo./Ladue Horton Watkins

Keith Randolph                      DL              6-5             270              Belleville, Ill./Belleville West

Joseph Thompson                   DB              5-10           160              Chicago, Ill./Phillips Academy

Casey Washington                  WR             6-2             175              Pflugerville, Texas/Pflugerville

Isaiah Williams                      QB              5-10           170              St. Louis, Mo./Trinity Catholic

 

FEBRUARY SIGNEES

 

Tarique Barnes

Memphis, Tenn./Cordova

LB, 6-1, 220

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN

» Two-star recruit by Rivals

» Ranked No. 86 outside linebacker in the nation by 247Sports and No. 103 by ESPN

» Ranked No. 37 recruit in Tennessee by 247Sports and ESPN

» 2018 Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game

» 2018 Commercial Appeal All-Metro Second Team Defense

» 2017 Army All-American Underclassman Combine participant

» 56 tackles, 12.0 TFLs, four sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, nine QB hurries and one blocked kick as a senior

» Played for head coach Marcus Wimberly as a senior at Cordova

» Also ran track in high school

» Offers included Arkansas, Mississippi State and Missouri

 

Shammond Cooper

St. Louis, Mo./Trinity Catholic

LB, 6-2, 205

» Four-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN

» Three-star recruit by Rivals

» Ranked No. 149 recruit in the nation by ESPN and No. 531 by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 26 inside linebacker in the nation by 247Sports and No. 30 by Rivals

» Ranked No. 13 outside linebacker in the nation by ESPN

» Ranked No. 4 recruit in Missouri by ESPN and No. 10 by 247Sports and Rivals

» Ranked as high as No. 128 overall recruit in the nation in May 2017 according to 247Sports Composite

» 2019 Under Amour All-American selection

» 2018 The Opening Finals participant

» 120 tackles, 13.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks as a senior

» Led Trinity Catholic to a Missouri Class 3 state title as a senior

» Led Trinity Catholic with 8.0 tackles in the 2018 Missouri Class 4 state title game to help Trinity Catholic beat Cardinal Ritter

» Played for head coach Cory Patterson through his junior year when Patterson left Trinity Catholic to become the tight ends coach at Illinois

» Played for head coach Terrence Curry at Trinity Catholic as a senior

» High school teammate of fellow Illinois signee Isaiah Williams

» Offers included Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, and Wisconsin

 

 

EARLY SIGNEES (DEC. 19)

 

Marquez Beason (mar-KEZ)

Duncanville, Texas/Duncanville

DB, 5-11, 175

» Four-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN

» Ranked No. 91 recruit in the nation by ESPN, No. 108 by 247Sports and No. 108 by Rivals

» Ranked No. 4 athlete in the nation by 247Sports and No. 12 by Rivals

» Ranked No. 11 cornerback in the nation by ESPN

» Ranked No. 14 recruit in Texas by Rivals and ESPN and No. 15 by 247Sports

» No. 8 recruit in Illinois’ last 17 years according to 247Sports

» Beason and Isaiah Williams are Illinois’ two highest ranked recruits since Terry Hawthorne in 2009 and the highest combo since Arrelious Benn and Martez Wilson in 2007

» Ranked as high as No. 54 overall recruit in the nation in March 2018 according to 247Sports Composite

» 2019 Under Armour All-American selection

» 2018 The Opening Finals participant

» Led Duncanville to the 2018 6A Division 1 state title game against Galena Park North Shore, which will be played Saturday, Dec. 22, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

» Duncanville is currently ranked No. 5 in the nation by USA Today

» Helped Duncanville upset USA Today’s No. 1-ranked team in the country, Allen, in the 2018 6A Division 1 state semifinals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

» 520 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 35 receptions as a junior

» 320 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 36 carries as a junior

» Played for head coach Reginald Samples at Duncanville

» Verbally committed to Illinois in March 2018

» Offers included Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State, Purdue, Rutgers, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCF, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State, and Wisconsin

 

Seth Coleman

Melbourne, Florida/Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

DL, 6-5, 200

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN

» Two-star recruit by Rivals

» Ranked No. 110 weak side defensive end in the nation by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 74 outside linebacker in the nation by ESPN

» Ranked No. 135 recruit in Florida by ESPN and No. 265 by 247Sports

» 101 tackles, 28.0 TFL and 13.0 sacks as a senior

» Played for head coach Nate Hooks at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

» Also played basketball at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

» Verbally committed to Illinois in July 2018

» Offers included Baylor, Navy, Nebraska, Pitt, Rutgers, South Florida, TCU, Utah, and Virginia

 

Kyron Cumby (KY-run)

Plano, Texas/Plano

RB, 5-8, 175

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN

» Ranked No. 16 all-purpose back in the nation by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 33 running back in the nation by ESPN

» Ranked No. 61 recruit in Texas by ESPN and No. 184 by 247Sports

» 897 rushing yards on 119 carries and 17 touchdowns as a senior

» 523 receiving yards on 43 receptions and five receiving touchdowns as a senior

» Played for head coach Jaydon McCullough at Plano

» Verbally committed to Illinois in June 2018

» Offers included Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Texas Tech and Washington State

 

Nick Fedanzo (fa-DON-zo)

Lombard, Illinois/Montini Catholic

RB, 6-0, 200

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN

» Two-star recruit by Rivals

» Ranked No. 81 running back in the nation by 247Sports and No. 97 by ESPN

» Ranked No. 25 recruit in Illinois by ESPN and No. 28 by 247Sports

» 2018 Class 5A IHSFCA All-State

» Led Montini to an IHSA 5A state runner-up finish as a senior at Memorial Stadium

» 17 carries for 186 yards and three touchdowns in the 2018 state championship game against Joliet Catholic

» Played for head coach Mike Bukovsky at Montini

» Verbally committed to Illinois in June 2018

» Offers included Air Force, Ball State, Georgetown and Kent State

 

Evan Kirts

Evergreen Park, Illinois/Brother Rice

OL, 6-5, 250

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN

» Ranked No. 116 offensive tackle in the nation by ESPN and No. 141 by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 24 recruit in Illinois by ESPN and No. 42 by 247Sports

» 2018 EdgyTim.com All-State 5A-8A

» 2018 Daily Southtown All-Area First Team

» Led Brother Rice to an IHSA 8A state runner-up finish as a senior at Memorial Stadium

» Helped Brother Rice score 405 points as a senior

» Played for head coach Brian Badke at Brother Rice

» Verbally committed to Illinois in November 2018

» Offers included Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Virginia, and Western Michigan

 

Griffin Moore

Bloomington, Illinois/Bloomington

TE, 6-4, 225

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN

» Two-star recruit by Rivals

» Ranked No. 84 tight end in the nation by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 139 athlete in the nation by ESPN

» Ranked No. 31 recruit in Illinois by ESPN and No. 46 by 247Sports

» 2018 Class 6A IHSFCA All-State

» Played mostly quarterback in high school, completing 46 passes for 857 yards and five touchdowns in nine games as a junior

» Averaged 37.7 yards per punt with eight down inside the 20-yard line as a senior

» 2018 Pantagraph All-Area first-team punter and honorable mention quarterback

» Played for head coach Scott Godfrey as a senior and head coach Joe Walters as a junior at Bloomington

» Also played basketball at Bloomington

» Verbally committed to Illinois in March 2018

» Offers included Illinois State

 

Moses Okpala (auck-PAH-la)

St. Louis, Missouri/Ladue Horton Watkins

DL, 6-7, 250

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN

» Ranked No. 649 recruit in the nation by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 37 strong side defensive end in the nation by Rivals and No. 47 by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 38 defensive end in the nation by ESPN

» Ranked No. 7 recruit in Missouri by Rivals and ESPN and No. 12 by 247Sports

» No. 48 recruit in Illinois’ last 19 years according to 247Sports

» Led Ladue Horton Watkins to a Missouri Class 4 state title as a senior

» 0.5 TFL and one QB hurry in the 2018 Missouri Class 4 state title game

» Played for head coach Mike Tarpey at Ladue Horton Watkins

» Also played basketball at Ladue Horton Watkins High School

» Verbally committed to Illinois in November 2018

» Offers included Arkansas, Iowa State, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wisconsin

 

Keith Randolph

Belleville, Illinois/Belleville West

DE, 6-5, 270

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN

» Ranked No. 587 recruit in the nation by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 36 strong side defensive end in the nation by Rivals and No. 43 by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 141 defensive end by ESPN

» Ranked No. 6 recruit in Illinois by Rivals, No. 6 by 247Sports and No. 20 by ESPN

» 2018 Class 7A IHSFCA All-State

» 56 tackles, 9.0 TFLs and 7.0 sacks as a senior

» Played for head coach Cameron Pettus at Belleville West

» Also played basketball in high school

» Offers included Boise State, Florida State, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Virginia

 

Joseph Thompson

Chicago, Illinois/Phillips Academy

DB, 5-10, 160

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN

» Ranked No. 81 cornerback in the nation by Rivals and No. 152 by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 125 athlete in the nation by ESPN

» Ranked No. 17 recruit in Illinois by Rivals, No. 27 by ESPN and No. 36 by 247Sports

» Scored a touchdown in the 2017 IHSA 5A state title to help Phillips beat Dunlap

» Played for head coach Troy McAllister at Phillips

» Verbally committed to Illinois in April 2018

» Offers included Ball State, Iowa State, Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan

 

Casey Washington

Pflugerville, Texas/Pflugerville

WR, 6-2, 175

» Three-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN

» Two-star recruit by Rivals

» Ranked No. 138 wide receiver in the nation by ESPN and No. 190 by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 175 recruit in Texas by ESPN and No. 201 by 247Sports

» 42 receptions for 565 yards and five touchdowns as a senior

» Played for head coach Charles Taylor at Pflugerville

» Verbally committed to Illinois in July 2018

» Offers included Kansas, South Alabama, Tulane, and UTSA

 

Isaiah Williams

St. Louis, Missouri/Trinity Catholic

QB, 5-10, 170

» Four-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN

» Ranked No. 47 recruit in the nation by Rivals, No. 93 by ESPN and No. 295 by 247Sports

» Ranked No. 5 athlete in the nation by 247Sports, No. 8 by ESPN and No. 16 by Rivals

» Ranked No. 1 recruit in Missouri by Rivals and ESPN and No. 5 by 247Sports

» No. 9 recruit in Illinois’ last 17 years according to 247Sports

» Williams and Marquez Beason are Illinois’ two highest ranked recruits since Terry Hawthorne in 2009 and the highest combo since Arrelious Benn and Martez Wilson in 2007

» Illinois’ highest ranked quarterback recruit since Juice Williams in 2006

» Ranked as high as No. 25 overall recruit in the nation in February 2018 according to 247Sports Composite

» 2019 Under Armour All-American selection

» 2018 Elite 11 Finals invitation

» 2018 and 2019 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year

» 2,470 passing yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior

» 1,132 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior

» 1,898 passing yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior

» Led Trinity Catholic to a Missouri Class 3 state title as a senior

» Threw for 175 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 23 yards in the 2018 Missouri Class 4 state title game to help Trinity Catholic beat Cardinal Ritter

» Played for head coach Cory Patterson through his junior year when Patterson left Trinity Catholic to become the tight ends coach at Illinois

» Played for head coach Terrence Curry at Trinity Catholic as a senior

» Also played basketball at Trinity Catholic

» Verbally committed to Illinois in March 2018

» Offers included Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, UCF, Virginia, and Wisconsin