ISU Signing Day 2009

Video Watch Signing Day Press Conference & Coaches' Comments | Follow ISU Signing Day 2009 on Twitter

 Time  Signee  Video Pos  Hometown  Last School
 7.27 a.m.
 Matt Lancaster
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments QB  West Lafayette, Ind.
 West Lafayette
 7.27 a.m.
 Brandon Westphal
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments FS  Bolingbrook, Ill.
 7.27 a.m.
 Henry Vande Hey
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments OT
 DePere, Wis.
 7.27 a.m.
 Ryan Givens
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments RB  Milwaukee  Riverside University
 8.32 a.m.
 Jason Link
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments DL  Galesburg, Ill.
 Cactus Shadows (Ariz.)
 8.32 a.m.
 Tyrone Walker
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments WR  Indianapolis  Cardinal Ritter
 8.36 a.m.
 John Brewer
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments DL  Lake Zurich, Ill.
 Lake Zurich
 8.39 a.m.
 Mike Zimmer
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments LB  Wheeling, Ill.
 8.39 a.m.
 Jordan Neukirch
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments RB/LB  Algonquin, Ill.
 8.42 a.m.
 Ben Ericksen
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments WR  Greendale, Wis.
 8.49 a.m.
 Zach Liming
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments OL/DL  Normal, Ill.
 Normal Community
 9.45 am
 Tyler Van Sligtenhorst
VideoHighlights ATH  Puyallup, Wash.
 9.53 a.m.
 Abdul Ayanwale
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments SS  Deltona, Fla.
 9.57 a.m.
 Rodney Johnson
VideoHighlights  LB/DE  Chicago
 Morgan Park
 10.01 a.m.
 Brandon Venson
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments WR  Glendale Heights, Ill.
 College of DuPage
 12.14 p.m.
 Cardale Brown
VideoHighlights | Coach Comments RB St. Augustine, Fla.
 St. Augustine


Welcome to the 2009 Redbird football signing day blog! Assistant Media Relations Director Keith Trivitt mannning the signing day central post today.  I want to make this interactive this year, so if you have any questions about signing day or Redbird football in general, I invite you to e-mail me at Just please understand that I may not be able to answer all of your questions until something becomes official.

2.45 p.m. - Some final personal observations. First, thanks to everyone who helped with today's live signing day coverage. Particularly to recruiting coordinator Jim Williams (look for an official announcement on Jim's 2009 position coaching duties to be out later this afternoon), who was an invaluable resource throughout this whole process. I'd also like to than our crack athletics media relations staff, who helped to keep me sane when things got pretty stresfful with final preparations this morning (there is a LOT to do on a national signing day!).  

I really hope you enjoyed our live signing day coverage, particularly the live blog, which was a first for us. I had a great time providing today's live coverage, and I will definitely do this again next year.  Thanks again for following along, and look for more interactive features like this in the coming months for Redbird football and all of Illinois State Athletics on and Redbird All-Access. Until then, see ya.

2.42 p.m. - Now that I've had time to get everything posted online, e-mailed and faxed out, let's take a minute to recap the day:

- ISU signed 16 recruits, eight of which come fromt the state of Illinois.

-The breakdown of Illinois State's 2009 signees, by position: wide receiver (3), running back (3), offensive line (2), defensive line
(2), safety (2) and linebacker (2), athlete (1) and quarterback (1).
- The state with the most players represented is Illinois, which has eight signees. Wisconsin is second with three signees, followed
by Florida (2), Indiana (2) and Washington (1).
- Illinois State's signing of four wide receivers means that it will start the 2009 season with nine receivers on roster, as the Redbirds
return five wide receivers from last season. Included in that group of returning receivers is 2008 All-Valley Football Conference
First-Team honoree Eyad Salem, who will be a senior on the 2009 squad.
- Illinois State continued to recruit and sign student-athletes from talent-rich Normal Community High School. NCHS product Zach
Liming will join Mike Cross, Austin Davis, Billy Dickson, Jake Detmers and Marcus King as Normal Community graduates
currently on the Redbird football roster. Normal Community High School won both the 2005 and 2006 Illinois High School
Association (IHSA) Class 6A State Championship while that quintet was on the NCHS roster.

2.20 p.m. - Just found out that there has been a little bit of displeasure over the length of the press conference on the live video stream on Redbird All-Access, so I'd like to address that real quick.

First, I apologize that the media conference ran so short, but to be perfectly honest with you, I can't control how many questions the media asks. From my perspective, I would love if they would ask 20 minutes worth of questions, and many times, they do during press conferences with our coaches, but that is not always the case.

As for showing the post-press conference highlight video, of course we would have loved to have shown that live, but from talking to our live streaming people that were working the camera for that, you wouldn't have seen much on your computer screens. It was pretty dark in there when the video was running, so nothing was really showing up on the camera lens, which is why they decided not to run a live video stream of that.  Of course, you had access to those video highlights on this blog from 7 a.m. on this morning, so you weren't missing a whole lot.

But at the same time, I can understand why some would be upset that they missed out on hearing the coaches talk about each recruit, and trust me, it was definitely my intention to allow all Redbird All-Access uers to see that video highlight show live. It just didn't work out that way today, and I apologize for that. A lot went on today, and we don't always quite have the staff to do everything that we would like to do.

Stay close, as I will continue to blog throughout the afternoon with my thoughts and observations from today.

2 p.m. - I just received an e-mail question regarding a comment on a potential student-athlete that has yet to sign with Illinois State.  NCAA rules and Illinois State regulations forbids any comment from any University personnel regarding a potential student-athlete without a signed National Letter of Intent on file in Illinois State Athletics Compliance Office.  Without that letter of intent on file, no one from the University can confirm or have any official comment on a potential student-athlete.

1.47 p.m. - Tyler Van Sligtenhorst's highlight video is now live and running, so be sure to check that out.  QB coach Luke Huard, who just coached at the University of Washington, is very high on this kid, and had some great things to say about him at the signing day media conference we just had, so he should be a good signing for the Redbirds. I'll have Van Sligtenhorst's official bio online shortly.

1.31 p.m. - One more quick update, and then I definitely need to finsih everything up with this: Cardale Brown was the Redbirds' 16th signee today, and he just barely made it in before our 12.15 p.m. media conference to officially announce the 2009 ISU football recruiting class! We received Cardale's NLI and had it approved by our compliance office literally two minutes before the media conference started.  A quick whisper in my year from assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Jim Williams, and Brown was officially added to our press release and to the media conference. That definitely made my morning interesting!

1.22 p.m. - Just got back to the office following Coach Spack's signing day media conference. Wow, was that a whirlwind of a morning.  I still have quite a lot to do to finalize everything from today ... BTW, Tyler Van Sligenhorst's position has been changed from QB to ATH.  Luke Huard, the quarterbacks coach, came into my office right as I was leaving for the press conference, and informed me that they intent on using Tyler as most likely a slot receiver, rather than at quarterback. Officially, he is being listed as an athlete for the time being. I would excpect that to change to something more skill specific once fall camp rolls around in August.

I'm going to get caught up on some stuff here, and then I'll blog again with a recap of the day. Thanks for following along. E-mail me at if you have any more questions!

11.04 a.m. - We're just a little over an hour away from Brock Spack's official media conference, and we're starting to get everything wrapped up around here and ready to head over to the Kaufman Football Buidling for the official presser at 12.15 p.m.

We've had a couple of questions regarding today's live video stream of the official signing day press conference, so I wanted to address that real quick:

1. Today's press conference is NOT free, as it is an exclusive offering of Redbird All-Access. If you are not already a Redbird All-Access member, subscriptions cost just $6.95 per month or $49.95 per year and includes tons of live and on-demand content.  Click here for more information.

2. If you are trying to sign up to watch the press conference live, please do so ASAP. It does take a few minutes for CBS College Sports Online to process your membership, and we don't want you to miss out on the action.  Also, you will need a credit card in order to sign up. Again, more information on this can be found here.

10.55 a.m. - The highlight video for Ryan Givens is now live. Check it out above. Givens is another big, big signing for the Redbirds.  He was a 2008 Associated Press High School All-American at running back and according to offensive coordinator Steve Farmer, is a bit of a power back/speed back hybrid, who should factor in strongly into ISU's new offensive scheme.  Think of him as a bit like Walter Mendenhall was this year for the 'Birds.  A strong, powerful running back that can also get up and go on a few long runs if he needs to.

10.39 a.m. - The much-anticipated highlight video of West Lafayette HS quarterback Matt Lancaster is now live. This is a huge get for Coach Spack and the Redbirds, as Lancaster was a legitimate Big Ten prospect that was recruited by Purdue, Indiana, Ball State and Toledo.  Offensive coordinator Steve Farmer just told me that he sees Lancaster as the first piece to a new era of Illinois State football with the spread offense, and Lancaster is the future of that offensive scheme.  Should be exciting to see how his career plays out at Illinois.  Coach Spack also called him a "super kid ... exteremely smart."  High praise from the big man himself.

10.14 a.m. - Four new signees just came out of the ISU Athletics Compliance Office: Tyler Van Sligtenhorst, Abdul Ayanwale, Rodney Johnson and Brandon Venson.  Van Sligtenhorst was a late recruit by the football staff, so we don't have any bio information on him yet.  Quarterbacks coach Luke Huard, who recruited Van Sligtenhorst, is running his bio form over to our office, so we will get something written up on him and on this blog hopefully within an hour. Until then, back to posting bios, highlight videos, coaches commentary, etc. Enjoy!

9.57 a.m. - Highlight videos for Matt Lancaster, Ryan Givens and Zach Liming just came down the pipeline from Illinios State football video coordinator Rick Geitz, who has done an amazing job of puttng all of these highlight videos together for Redbird fans. I'll get those videos posted ASAP.

9.55 a.m. - Our first e-mail question of the day comes from Leonard in Hudson, Ill., who writes: Keith, I was really excited to see (Tyrone) Walker's highlight video - especially that one-handed grab he made. It seems like the wide receiver position has been a huge emphasis in this class and probably should be with Eyad (Salem) as our only top receiver back. Do you see Marcus King stepping up his contribution, and where do guys like Walker and Ben Ericksen fit in next year?"

Great question, Leonard.  With Coach Spack's new coaching staff and coaching philisophy, there is definitely going to be a change in the offensive scheme next year for the Redbirds, particularly in regards to a transition to a pass-focused offense.  Eyad had a great season for ISU, but as Coach Spack has said many times over the last few weeks, no one man can do it himself as a receiver; the Redbirds need a lot more legs on the field, and this year's recruiting class, particularly guys like Tyrone Walker and Ben Ericksen, should provide some help for Eyad.  The new guys are athletic enough to make contributions early, but there's a learning curve for everyone.  While Coach Spack and his staff are definitely excited about the signed recruits so far, we shouldn't heap too much expectations on these guys on signing day.

9.48 a.m. - Well, it took me a while, but I finally got the last of the videos uploaded that we have available to us so far. We're working on getting highlight videos on of Matt Lancaster, Ryan Givens and Zach Liming, so stay tuned for those. I'll answer a couple of e-mail questions that I have received this morning here in a few minutes. Thanks for following the Redbird football signing day blog today!

9.21 a.m. - While we're awaiting the arrival of more NLIs, and I'm still uploading highlight videos of the signed recruits, Kevin McCarty, our resident football media relations grad assistant, just stepped into my office and told me about the sweet highlight video that was put together for Tyrone Walker. That video is now up, and accorind to Kevin, there is an awesome catch where Tyrone goes up and catches a ball on the run with one hand. I haven't had a chance to look at the video yet, myself, but if Kevin says it's a good one, then I'm trusting that opinion.

8.50 a.m. - A quick note about one of the newest signees, Mike Zimmer: Mike is only the third Illinois State football player this decade to have a last name that starts with the letter "Z."  Zimmer joins current Redbird Dane Zumbahlen (one of the funniest guys you will ever meet), as well as former ISU player Kevin Zouzounis (2001-02).  If you are into this sort of stuff, I guess that's kind of cool. It's itneresting to me at least, which is why I bothered to look it up.

8.44 a.m. - OK, now the signees are really starting to come in fast and furious! We are up to 11 total signees, as Zach Liming (OL/DL/Normal, Ill./Normal Community) just signed his NLI. In the process, he became the Redbirds' first local recruit to sign.  Liming was a member of Normal Community's 2006 IHSA Class 6A State Championship team.

8.41 a.m. - ISU's recruiting class is now up to 10 signees, as Ben Ericksen (WR/Greendale, Wis./Greendale HS) just signed his NLI. Getting the video highlights and coaches commentaries up on here is going a little slower than I anticipated. A lot of activity is going on around here. I'll get them up as fast as I can. 

In the meantime, send me your questions at and I'll answer them as they come in.

8.29 a.m. - Just posted our fist highlight video of Bolingbrook, Ill., native Brandon Westphal, who was a special mention all-state honoree as a senior in 2008 and is projected to play at the free safety position for the Redbirds.  Check out Brandon's high school highlight video below, and look for highlights of the rest of the officially signed recruits in a few minutes.

Just got about five new signees in, so I'm going to hustle and get those live on the blog. A quick sneak of the newest Redbird football signees: Jordan Nuekirch, Tyrone Walker, John Brewer, Mike Zimmer and Jason Link. Bios and the rest in a few minutes for each of them.

8.14 a.m. - While we await more signees' NLIs to come in, I thought I would give you all a brief glimpse into how our live signing day coverage is made possible. Lots of prep work obviously goes into this, from gathering biographical information and headshots of each recruit, along with highlight videos. I also filmed commentary from each head coach on the recruits, so we will have that for you today. 

Once I get the official word that a recruit has signed his NLI, I then make his online bio live, start working on making his highlight video live and then scurry around trying to get everything else on this Web page up and running.

I'll have more for you in a bit ... more videos to upload now. Don't forget, you can also follow our live signing day coverage with the first updates of each signee on our official Twitter page. Click here to learn how.

7.58 .m. - Whew! OK, we're finally rolling. After days of preparation for this, we are finally rolling with Redbird football Signing Day 2009! Exciting stuff around here. While I've been up since 5 a.m., and I'm over-caffeineted (sp?), I'm working hard to provide Redbird fans with the most up-to-date info on all of the 2009 ISU football signees. 

The first signees came in fast, as Matt Lancaster, Brandon Westphal, Henry Vande Hey and Ryan Givens all came through the ISU Athletics Compliance Office with their signed NLIs.  Check out their official bios above, as well as video commentary from ISU offensive coordtinator Steve Farmer and defensive coordinator Phil Elmassian. I'm workingo on getting their official highlight videos up here soon, so be on the lookout for those.

I'll try to keep a live blog going throughout the day ... well, at least leading up to Coach Spack's media conference at 12.15 p.m., which as I now look at my watch, is quickly approaching.

Feb. 4, 2009 | is your official source for live coverage of signing day direct from the Illinois State Athletics Department. Follow the updated list of 2009 Redbird football signnees all morning and watch on-demand video highlights of each signee, comments from Illinois State offensive coordinator Steve Famer and defensive coordinator Phil Elmassian, as well as a live Webcast of head coach Brock Spack's media conference at 12:15 p.m. from the Kaufman Football Building.
A Redbird All-Access membership is required to watch live and on-demand coverage Redbird Football Signing Day. A monthly pass is just $6.95 and provides you complete access to all of our Signing Day features Feb. 4, plus a full month of Illinois State men's and women's basketball and women's gymnastics live events and ISU Athletics Department video archives. Learn more about Redbird All-Access.

Once all of the signees have faxed in their letters of intent, and Redbird All-Access will provide exclusive live and on-demand video coverage of Brock Spack's media conference addressing ISU's 2009 recruiting class, from the Kaufman Football Building. A Redbird All-Access membership is required to view all videos from Redbird Football Signing Day, including head coach Brock Spack's living Signing Day Media Conference at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009, from the Kaufman Football Building.
2008 Signing Day Review | provided minute-by-minute official updates on Signing Day 2008 from the Illinois State Athletics Department. Included in that coverage were highlight videos of each signee, as well as a live and on-demand Webcast of the 2008 Redbird Football Signing Day Media Conference. Review full coverage here.