Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge: Three storylines for Illinois fans
The Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas will take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on June 25, and with 100 of the top prospects from the 2020 and 2021 classes in attendance many college programs are going to keenly interested in the event’s outcome. One of those programs will be Illinois, which has a commitment and a key target in attendance.
1. How will Reggie Love stack up against the best RBs?
There are only four running backs participating in the Five-Star Challenge, and Zachary Evans, Bijan Robinson and Jalen Berger all rank among the top 40 prospects in the 2020 class. Illinois commit Reggie Love rounds out the group, but he is no slouch as a Rivals250 prospect and a player who was a clear-cut MVP winner at the St. Louis stop of the Rivals 3 Stripe Camps tour.
Still, Illinois fans are going to be curious how their tailback of the future compares to the nation’s best. Love is an every-down back who can run between the tackles and tote the rock 20-plus times a game, but he proved at the St. Louis camp that he is a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield as well, and those skills will be highlighted in next week’s event.
2. Can Illinois keep the Trinity Catholic pipeline flowing?
The Lovie Smith era in Champaign has not been one to write home about in terms of wins and losses on the field, but several wins in recruiting have Illini fans optimistic about the future. A key to Illinois’ recent recruiting success has been the ability to tap into the St. Louis talent pool, specifically talent-rich Trinity Catholic High School. Smith tabbed former Trinity Catholic head coach Cory Patterson to be his tight ends coach two years ago, and that paid immediate dividends when the Illini were able to secure Rivals100 athlete Isaiah Williams and three-star linebacker Shammond Cooper in the 2019 class.
They have Love committed in the 2020 class, and are considered one of the strongest contenders for Rivals100 athlete Mookie Cooper, who will be playing wide receiver at the Five-Star Challenge. Illinois fans will undoubtedly be interested in how Cooper fares among the talent in Atlanta, but they will also be tuning in to see if the four-star plans to make Champaign his future home.
3. Growing the recruiting reach
It was a blow for Illinois when Rivals100 safety Antonio Johnson, the No. 1-ranked prospect in Illinois for the 2020 class, committed to Tennessee earlier this month after a visit to Knoxville. But then Johnson made a visit to Champaign the following weekend and there was a flicker of hope for Illinois fans that Johnson may still end up in this class. Johnson is one of the top safety prospects in the 2020 class and he will be showcasing his talent at the Five-Star Challenge next week.
Having Love there representing the Illini cannot hurt, and just having the Illinois brand represented on a big stage like the Five-Star Challenge is a step in the right direction for the program. There are top prospects in the 2021 class who will be present that are still formulating their favorites, and even some 2020s who may be compelled to consider new schools. With the Illinois brand being represented this is a chance to for the program to grow its reach.