Who rules the state under Bret Bielema, Pat Fitzgerald, PJ Fleck, Kirk Ferentz and others? – The athlete – To the world

Seven current FBS head coaches are from the state of Illinois: Bret Bielema, Pat Fitzgerald, PJ Fleck, Tim Lester, Sean Lewis, Chuck Martin and Jeff Monken.

This puts the Land of Lincoln in a triple (with Florida and Tennessee) for the fifth most FBS head coaches, behind California (13), Ohio (11), Texas (9) and Oklahoma (8).

The quality of high school ball in the area has also increased over the past decade, with Illinois currently boasting 19 four- or five-star prospects from the 2021-23 recruitment classes, most of the state had in any three years. Annual distance since 2014-16 (22).

And with Bielema and its staff placing an emphasis on state recruiting in a way that many of its predecessors did not, local competition has intensified.

To put the area’s recruiting scene in context, The Athletic called seven high school coaches across the state and granted them anonymity to speak freely about which colleges are really doing their due diligence.

The whiteboard:

Coach 1: Head coach in Chicago

Coach 2: Head coach in western suburbs

Coach 3: Head coach in the Chicago area

Coach 4: Head coach in northern suburbs

Coach 5: Head coach in western suburbs

Coach 6: Head coach in southern Illinois

Coach 7: Head coach in the Chicago area

What are your impressions of Bret Bielema and his employees in the year since they took over Illinois?

Coach 1: Oh, I love them, and I mean, to be honest, there was only one way, but they are the best ones I have dealt with with all the coaches right now, sending me lucky texts and kids graphics send to the U of I, who played in (our school) and always keeps us up to date. You did a really good job, especially with high school coaches.


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