Piper: Thoughts on Jeremiah Fears backing out of his Illini commitment

Illinois added six commitments during the month of June, filling several of its top needs in the class.

Illinois won two Power Four recruitments for highly-recruiting Midwest defensive linemen, Cameron Brooks and Isaiah White. The Illini flipped two three-star prospects from previous Power Four commitments, landing former Cincinnati EDGE pledge Erik Gayle and former NC State DB pledge Robert Jones III. Illinois also closed on three-star Florida RB Cedric Wyche and three-star Michigan DB Desmond Straughton.

The Illini have only 10 seniors on the 2024 roster, so Illinois is expected to bring in a smaller Class of 2025. Though, that all could change based on what the NCAA sets for football roster limits for the 2025 season in the wake of the House settlement. So if the roster limit expands potential scholarships from 85 to 100 or more, the class obviously could grow, and the Illini and the rest of college football should get that answer by the end of the current dead period in late August.

Quarterbacks could really have a difficult time going up against opposing Big Ten defensive secondaries in 2024. The expanded conference is loaded with talent on the back end and arguably has four of the best defensive back groups in the entire country — Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State and Oregon. Several All-American caliber cornerbacks and safeties help make up these units that could shut down even college football’s highest-scoring offenses in 2024.

The Buckeyes upgraded what was already a stacked defensive secondary with the addition of Caleb Downs, the top-ranked transfer prospect from the recent portal cycle. Although the Wolverines lost a two-year starter to injury this spring, that group has plenty of worthy ballhawks that will make quarterbacks think twice before throwing their direction.

Continuing a summer series dissecting the Big Ten position by position, we delve into the talent of the defensive secondary, ranking each unit worst to best.


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