Illinois coach Tim Beckman made no secret of his team's depth and talent issues before the season, and those issues were exposed during a 2-10 campaign.
Beckman and the Illini need reinforcements as quickly as possible, so they are turning to the junior college ranks. Today was the first day that junior college players could sign letters of intent, and Illinois announced that five juco imports are coming to Champaign. They are:
Martize Barr, WR, 6-foot, 190 pounds, Iowa Western CC
Abe Cajuste, DT, 6-3, 290, Victor Valley (Calif.) College
Eric Finney, OLB/S, 6-1, 205, College of the Canyons (Calif.)
Dallas Hinkhouse, OL, 6-5, 275, Iowa Western CC
Zane Petty, S, 6-1, 190, America River (Calif.) College
Hinklehouse and Finney will each have three years of eligibility with the Illini, while the other three players will have two. Finney did not play last season because of an injury. Barr played at New Mexico as a freshman before going to Iowa Western, which won the junior college national title. Hinklehouse also played on that team and was named a juco All-American. Petty spent a redshirt season at Colorado State and had seven interceptions last year. Cajuste could help fill the void left by departing starters Akeem Spence and Glenn Foster at defensive tackle.
"We're extremely excited about these five young men and their families joining the Fighting Illini family," Beckman said in a news release. "These men are coming to Champaign from winning programs around the country. There are two national champions and several conference champions in the group. The most exciting part is that they fill immediate needs for us. They all play a different position of need and are spread across all areas of the team."
Beckman and his staff have been actively scouring the junior college ranks, and don't be surprised to see more two-year transfers in the 2013 class.