Technology helps Illinois' early recruiting

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Five Big Ten head coaches have official Twitter accounts, but none other uses it as consistently as new Illinois boss Tim Beckman.

If there aren't a few tweets sent out from Beckman's account (@coachbeckman) every morning between 6-8 a.m. -- with several exclamation points included -- someone should probably call for a wellness check. Twitter is just one of several tech tools Beckman and his staff use to connect with fans and recruits.

Beckman attributes part of Illinois' early recruiting success for 2013 -- the Illini have nine verbal commits, the third most in the Big Ten behind national leader Michigan (18) and Ohio State (11) -- to the benefits of technology.

"It's been unbelievable, the change because of technology," Beckman told ESPN.com on Thursday before an appearance on the Illinois Coaches Caravan in the Chicago suburbs. "With the iPad and Vudu or Tango or Skype, what used to be a phone call is now a visual. What we can do when we're talking to them, with the backgrounds [at Illinois' facilities] and different things. Players want to see themselves."

Beckman credits his assistants for the fast start to 2013 recruiting, which included a verbal from heralded quarterback prospect Aaron Bailey. The Illini have had just one verbal commit by this date in each of the past two years.

Both the 2011 and 2012 classes received so-so marks.

"In today's age, the way recruiting's going and how fast it's going, there's no question [a fast start is important]," Beckman said. "Getting players on your campus, meeting your staff, meeting your staff's families, meeting everybody that's going to be involved in your student-athlete's life is very important."

Beckman is known as a strong recruiter, and he succeeds another at Illinois in former coach Ron Zook. But like all FBS head coaches, Beckman can't recruit off campus during the spring evaluation period (April 15-May 31).

That's where technology comes in.

"I love recruiting," he said. "As a head football coach, when you can't go out in April and May, [technology] is the only way you're able to touch base with those players. So I think it's great."