Looks Like University Of Illinois - Hank Beatty

Jun 9, 2021

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I think we should start with a quick inventory on where these in-state players played high school football. And by "these in-state players" I mean the players who have been added this spring by Bret Bielema's staff, both high school recruits in the 2022 class and transfers who will be eligible in 2021. Maybe "inventory" isn't the right way to say it. I should just make my point.

Kenenna Odeluga, the ATH recruit added to the 2021 class in March, played high school football at Mt. Carmel in Chicago. Jack Badovinac, the Colgate transfer added in April, played high school football at Loyola Academy. Two of the nine players verballed in the 2022 class play high school ball at Joliet Catholic. And Hank Beatty plays HS football for the Rochester Rockets just down the road, winners of 8 of the last 10 state titles.

Let's just count the state championships here.

Joliet Catholic - 13
Mt. Carmel - 13
Rochester - 8 of the last 10 titles (in 4A and 5A)
Loyola Academy - 3 titles (8A), including 2015 and 2018, plus they finished second in 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2017 (and were ranked #1 this year but there were no playoffs).

My point, which I'm sure you can guess: the players added this spring are not highly ranked (star-wise). Of the five guys listed above (including Badovinac), I believe Beatty was the only player who had an offer from another Power Five school (Iowa State). This sentence will sound worse than it is, but these are not the top players in the state giving their verbal commitment. Those players are still choosing Ohio State and Michigan. These guys are, however, 1) in-state players from 2) the top high school football programs in the state. I have to believe this is intentional.

Every head coach has a focus when it comes to recruiting. Tim Beckman immediately focused on Ohio. Lovie Smith focused on Florida (specifically, guys who ran track in Florida). Bret Bielema seems fully focused on Illinois, getting with the top programs in the state (historically) and recruiting their best players. That's not the only recruiting focus, obviously (two players from New Jersey have already verballed), but if we're looking for "themes", the first six months here have been a full-on in-state focus.

None of that matters, of course, if you're not finding talent. Focus all you want on in-state players - try to develop good relationships with the best programs in the state - but if you're not identifying the right kids, we'll just continue this long streak of losing seasons. I'm just pointing out the clear theme we've seen. Joliet Catholic, Mt. Carmel, Rochester... I don't think any of that is just coincidence.

For Beatty, like all Illinois high school players, being in the class of 2022 is really bad luck. 35 states played football in the fall, 15 states moved football to the spring, and of those playing in the spring, Illinois had one of the shortest seasons with six games and no playoffs. So the regular process for recruiting - put your junior film out there in November and December, visit some schools for Junior Day in February and March, accumulate offers as assistant coaches are out on the road April 15 through May 31, camp in June to try to get more offers - just didn't exist this year for Illinois players. Some schools had several games canceled from their spring season and only played 3-4 games. Really tough break for kids trying to get noticed.

So expect a lot of senior breakouts this fall in the state of Illinois. Schools are scrambling to see kids in person now that recruiting is finally "open" again, with kids traveling to campuses just to work out in front of coaches. As I've said before, the rankings for the 2022 class will undoubtedly be the worst rankings we've seen in a decade. There's just not enough information out there (no camps until this month, no visits the last 15 months, some kids only have 4 games of film) for the rankings to be "accurate".

But you can trust those Tom Crusies. I mean, sure, I have to go off mostly sophomore film, and offer lists can't be trusted, but I can still dig around and figure out the number of Cruises. Let's do that for Hank Beatty.

Offers? Two P5 offers from Illinois and Iowa State. He picked Illinois one day after his Covid-shortened junior season ended, so he didn't even have his junior film out there yet, but that's still a data point here. Only one other P5 offer.

Size? He's a smaller receiver to be sure (think Donny Navarro). 5'-11", 175 lbs.

Film? The first thing I think after watching all this film of receivers that Lovie recruited is that he's more of a football player than an athlete. Let me explain that.

The thing I've said over and over in these LLUOI posts the last five years, especially when it's a WR recruit: "he's clearly a track athlete with speed." Over and over. That was the common theme from the HS recruits (like Dalevon Campbell) to the transfers (like Khmari Thompson). Find speed, teach WR later.

Beatty's film is the opposite of that. The best plays are all YAC (Yards After Catch). Some examples:

And this one where, let's be honest, the defenders didn't handle the play very well, but Beatty just fought out of the bear trap and took off:

And of course this one, which takes place on the high school football field where I used to... lead the snare line out there at halftime. If you look really closely you can see my old dentist's office through the trees.

Oh, and Beatty is really hard to bring down.

Is he big enough to play Big Ten football? You need to be a special kind of athlete to play wide receiver in the Big Ten standing less than six feet tall. I don't see "special athlete" here (like I do with someone like Isaiah Williams), but his sophomore film is a whole bunch of "shorter receiver who is really hard to bring down".

Honestly, he looks like all those short Iowa receivers who have killed us over the years. They always seem to find those guys. And it's always a scenario like this where the go find the best athlete at a high school and then develop develop develop.

I can't go very high on Cruises due to size (and lack of offers), but I don't think this is a 1.5 Cruise kind of recruit either. I'd say he's right there in the middle.

Hank Beatty - Two and one-half Tom Cruises.


Douglascountyillinifan on June 9, 2021 @ 08:29 AM

He absolutely seems like someone who we would have basically ignored in seasons past, only to see him light it up elsewhere. (see Westerkamp, Jordan) As an aside, I spent several Saturdays in the Highland gym for their dance competition. Villa Grove Devilette Dance Dad in the house! I thought it was a really cool layout, walking from the cafeteria into the upper concourse of the gym.

Eagle on June 9, 2021 @ 08:46 AM

Beatty is a baller. Shifty and quick. Think Mikey. He’s a classic example of a player who will perform better than the general consensus. He’s a decent QB too so he gives us an option for some razzle dazzle.

DB50 on June 9, 2021 @ 09:58 AM

I agree with Eagle, after watching his film I also thought of Mikey. Get him in the weight room, put another 15 lbs. on & you have not only a potentially dangerous receiver but also KO & punt returner.

uilaw71 on June 9, 2021 @ 12:08 PM

Wes Lunt notwithstanding, Rochester kids are ballers.

Norcal Illini on June 9, 2021 @ 12:54 PM

Think of Mike Epstein coming out of St. Thomas Aquinas.

skibdaddy on June 9, 2021 @ 09:55 PM

This seems like a perfect time to pick up Illinois' power program's non-elite players to me. No real information out there and we could be getting some gems that haven't been uncovered yet... plus building a pipeline to the Illinois power football programs will pay dividends, especially if these guys have a great experience in orange & blue and their coaches/communities feel comfortable sending more recruits our way.

I'm not expecting BB to work miracles right away, but this strategy could work out really well for him/us!

IBFan on June 10, 2021 @ 12:19 AM

Kid is the real deal. Field awareness, hands, etc....he just gets it done. Hopefully he reaches the potential at wr that CS8 coaches think he can.

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