John Supinie Zooks Access Limited 2009: East Peoria

John Supinie Zooks access limited

EAST PEORIA &mdash Illinois football coach Ron Zook, a recruiting specialist, dislikes NCAA rules that don’t allow head coaches to recruit during the busy
month of May. While seven members of the football coaching staff can be off campus at the same time, the head coach can’t be one of them. The rule that took effect last season also restricts head coaches from leaving campus for clinics. Therefore, Zook has limited access to recruits and their coaches. “It’s hard to get to know kids when you can only see them one time,’’ Zook said before the Illini meet-and-greet tour stop Monday. “They have to come to your campus. You can’t go to them, and they can go to only so many places. I want to be able to see them and get around them.’’ Zook would favor official recruiting visits in May and an early signing period. Like in basketball, football players are making decisions earlier. If the only time you can spend with a player is when he makes an unofficial visit, Zook said, then it’s a losing battle. Although he keeps abreast of recruiting through calls to assistant coaches on the road and by taking calls from prospective recruits, Zook uses much of his time meeting with current Illini. “I talked to them about what we expect, what they have to do,’’ Zook said. “I keep up on what they have to do academically.’’ Cornerbacks Miami Thomas (shoulder) and Patrick Nixon-Youman (abdominal tear) plus safety Donsay Hardeman (neck) apparently will be ready for preseason camp, Zook said. Nixon pulled the muscle off bone during the final week of spring drills. Hardeman was the team’s biggest cheerleader following offseason surgery.
Zook and Illini basketball coach Bruce Weber are scheduled to appear at the Illini meet-and-greet Wednesday in Springfield at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center. The event starts at 6 p.m. and is free of charge, but admission is limited to the first 500 fans who register at

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