Looks Like University Of Illinois – Connor Brennan

I made this promise to do every LLUOI post within 48 hours of a commitment. But I have a very good reason why this one took 72 hours: I enlisted help. I asked IlliniBoard line play expert Martin O’Donnell (that’s on his business card – Line Play Expert) to take a look at Brennan’s film and tell me – tell us – what he thought. [Read more...]

Looks Like University Of Illinois – Julian Jones

I love commits like this. Knowing nothing about the player and viewing it blind, a player committed to a small school who has a great senior year and picks up high major offers is the exact type of player we need to be landing. Football recruiting has gone crazy early as of late, which means there are plenty of senior breakouts to be had. I think this kid is one of them. [Read more...]

Looks Like University Of Illinois – Desmond Cain

I’m so far behind. On everything. Still plugging through Check The Tape for Ohio State. Three LLUOI’s behind. Trying to write this basketball preview that Brumby and I are releasing next week. Finalizing everything for the new hoops writers. Preparing Beckman’s final exam. Tonight, I catch up on LLUOI’s.

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Looks Like University Of Illinois – Juwuane Parchman

I mentioned in the last post that writing about a 2015 player with the head coach status up in the air is weird. Writing about a 2016 player who won’t sign for 457 days is even more strange. But hey, let’s do this. [Read more...]

Looks Like University Of Illinois – Justice Williams

I mean, name team, right? I hope this kid is the real deal, because the name Justice Williams for a linebacker makes me giddy. At this point, we’re going to have to call Tre Watson “Truth” and Austin Roberts “The American Way”, right? [Read more...]

Comparing Zook and Beckman

I spend a lot of time wondering how I can best make this point.  The list inside this post was compiled more than three months ago, but I haven’t found the right time to post it.  Mostly because it’s something that can so easily be interpreted the wrong way.  But hey, it’s 11:24 pm, and this is the first chance I’ve had to blog in four days, so let’s do this.

The topic: Zook’s recruits leaving and Beckman’s recruits sticking around.  [Read more...]

Looks Like University Of Illinois – Sam Mays

They’re both around 6′-3″ and close to 180 lbs. They’re both wide receivers from Texas. They’re both members of the 2015 Illini recruiting class. They committed to Illinois within 24 hours of each other. Whether they like it or now, Sam Mays and A.D. Miller will forever be linked. This is a good thing. [Read more...]

Looks Like University Of Illinois – A.D. Miller

This recruiting class will have, I don’t know, maybe 23 players. Which means from March to February, I get to write 23 of these (plus two or three more for basketball) in the span of 365 days. So OF COURSE we land three players in four days while I’m in Michigan on vacation. Not that I’m complaining. [Read more...]

Looks Like University Of Illinois – Henry Enyenihi

A Juco discussion broke out in the comments section of the Butkus Statue post, so I figured I should maybe talk about The Whole Juco Thing while addressing our latest junior college commitment, Henry Enyenihi.

First off, how great is a name like Henry Enyenihi? Specifically, how great is it that someone with the last name Enyenihi has a first name with a “hen” sound and a “ree” sound? Hen-ree-enn-yen-ee-hee. Say it to yourself eleven times. It just flows, right?

Wait, is it Henry en-YEN-uh-hee or Henry EN-yen-NEE-hee? You know what? Either one works.

First, let’s talk jucos. Here’s my personal opinion on junior college players. Please take this in an “if I was the head coach” sense, not necessarily how I see Tim Beckman’s approach to jucos.

Mike White went to the Rose Bowl with California jucos back in the 1980′s, and that started a trend of “jucos are great for the program” among Illini fans. Even when I was in school in the early 90′s, if we added a junior college recruit, everyone would repeat the same “you know Mike White went to the Rose Bowl with junior college players” mantra. There is a distinct advantage to juco players: you get to screen them a second time.

When you recruit a high school player, you’re mostly recruiting what the player might become. Good frame, good feet, add 75 lbs to him and you’ve probably landed a great right tackle. With junior college players, you’ve watched that development and are mostly recruiting what the player has become after a few years of growing and maturing. That’s not the case for every junior college recruit, of course, but you do have the advantage of further watching their development. Prep school works like this as well. Peter Cvijanovic didn’t get an offer out of high school but he went to prep school, added the 50 lbs recruiters were wondering if he could add, and here he is now as a scholarship tackle.

There’s also a drawback to junior college recruiting: player development. Look at every program you admire (Wisconsin, Oregon, etc) and you’ll see this huge player development program. You redshirt a lot, you keep the same schemes, you train your recruits in those schemes, and you keep cranking out winning season after winning season. Once that Wisconsin guard or that Oregon wideout has had three years of learning everything there is to know about the offense, you unleash them as a redshirt junior and just keep winning and winning.

You can’t really do that with jucos. Maybe the first year they learn your system and the second year they’re gone, and then suddenly you have to replace them. You can win that way (see State, Kansas), but you have to keep adding more and more jucos because these are already graduating. Once you get into that cycle, it’s hard to get out.

So to me, adding junior college kids is a balance. If you know you have immediate needs on your roster, yes, by all means, load up on jucos. We struggled on the defensive line last year and so the staff went out and landed three junior college defensive linemen. Bravo. Exactly what we needed. However, guess what? Those jucos will be gone 18 months from today and we’ll have to start all over on the defensive line. Juco recruiting is fine, but you must add high school recruits at the same positions so that the high school recruit will be ready to go when the junior college guy graduates.

This offer (and verbal) here – Henry Enyenihi – makes sense in that regard. We lost Matt Domer to grades. We lost Dami Ayoola. Ty Isaac picked Michigan. LaKeith Walls was tried at RB but has moved to linebacker. Donovonn Young will be graduating. We’ll really need some depth at tailback next season, so that’s what we’re doing with Enyenihi.

And I like that we’re adding both high school running backs (Brown, Corbin) with a junior college running back in the same class. As I said above, that’s always ideal to me. Enyenihi plays in 2015 and 2016 and then Brown or Corbin (or both) are ready in 2017 after two years of development.

OK, let’s actually talk about Enyenihi and where he fits. When I heard about this my first reaction was that this is the Matt Domer replacement. But given the fact that Domer is going to attempt to enroll again in January (the Paul James Plan) and might arrive at the same time as Enyenihi, I think it’s more accurate to say that Enyenihi is the Dami Ayoola replacement. In fact, I think he’s nearly exactly the Ayoola replacement. More of a power back than a shifty back, ready to take over the power role after Donovonn Young graduates next year – yep, that’s exactly what this is.

In fact, Rivals’ list of junior college recruits lists Ayoola as the #67 juco nationally (he’s at Arizona Western CC and is already verballed to Arizona in 2015) and lists Enyenihi as the #91 juco nationally. I’ll track both their final two years of college ball at Arizona and Illinois and let you know which one came out with the better college career.

Film – looks solid. Runs “low” like Ayoola, so he might be able to deliver some hits and keep on running. Nothing really all that crazy on film – I don’t think he’s a future pro – and I don’t see the vision that maybe a Mikel Leshoure had, but overall, perfectly decent junior college film. I think he can contribute to the rotation.

Tom Cruises: The fact that we were his only FBS offer gives pause (although, again, most programs wait for sophomore year film to chase jucos – at least they used to), but seeing him ranked on Rivals juco list is very encouraging. It means that someone on Rivals juco side saw his film and was impressed. And with Ayoola gone and Domer not in school, this fills a huge need for next year – immediate help after Young graduates. So that all settles on 2.5 Toms for me.

HenREE EnYENuhHEE – two and one half Tom Cruises.

2andhalfCruises

Looks Like University Of Illinois – Zach Heath

With this verbal, I’m struck by something. It’s easy to mechanically go through these posts, evaluating film and projecting future lineups to see where this new player might fit into future Illini football depth charts. But sometimes, it’s helpful to remember what’s really happening here. So I’ll get to the film review, but first I want to talk about something else. [Read more...]