ILLINOIS

Top 25 Class: No.

Best in class: Chicago Catholic League offensive player of the year Ricky Smalling from Brother Rice High in Oak Lawn is a four-star wide receiver prospect, making him the Illini’s highest-rated player at that position in a decade. His early verbal commitment was celebrated by fans who want to believe coach Lovie Smith is on the right track.

Best of the rest: DT Kendrick Green of Peoria surprised some when he picked Illinois over Iowa in December.

Late addition: DE Deon Pate of Jacksonville, Florida, came into the fold on Monday. He flipped from Appalachian State after visiting Champaign last weekend.

One that got away: Three-star WR Reggie Roberson had Illinois high on his list after de-committing from Kansas. On Monday, he pledged to West Virginia.

How they’ll fit in: Smalling and Carmoni Green are likely to see immediate playing time in a receiving corps that returns 2016 leader Malik Turner and the promising Mike Dudek, who has missed two seasons with ACL tears. Junior college transfer Dwayne Lawson, who started his career at Virginia Tech, was expected to challenge Jeff George Jr. at quarterback, but Lawson’s signing has been delayed because of a grades issue.

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