Looks Like University Of Illinois - Ra'Von Bonner
Probably the strangest development of the 2017 recruiting cycle (for the Illini) was the loss of not one, not two, but three of our top four running back targets to Arkansas. All three picked the Razorbacks. So it left us to look elsewhere to find a second tailback for the class. And we landed on Ra'Von Bonner.
After missing out on those three players (Maleek Williams, Chase Hayden, and Jordon Curtis), I think the focus was on finding a bigger tailback. Lovie already has Mike Epstein committed, and Epstein is a speed/burst tailback, so I'm guessing Lovie was looking to find a bigger back to complement Epstein.
Taking that further, it appears that there were two tailbacks ready to commit who maybe didn't have commitable offers: Calvin Tyler out of Texas and Bonner from Cincinnati. Tyler is the smaller, quicker back (like Epstein), and Bonner is the bigger back. Tyler is still supposedly a heavy Illini lean but maybe doesn't have a commitable offer? While Bonner fairly obviously had a commitable offer, you know, given that he committed.
I should probably pause to talk about "commitable" offers. Sometimes, a guy will have an offer but the team will land another player at that spot. At that point, he might be told that he can't commit until they sort out the other positions on the team. Or, it's sometimes as simple as "we want you at Illinois, but we want to watch your senior film to see if you're a fit, so here's your offer but let's talk about it in December". There are soft commitments - a player just isn't quite sure but is still "committed" - and there are also soft offers.
I don't know if Lovie operates like that, but it's fairly typical across college football. I put both Tyler and Bonner in that category, and now that Bonner has verballed, I'm wondering if Tyler is getting the "we need to sort out all positions" talk. This is all speculation, of course, so I should probably move on to talk about Ra'Von Bonner.
Watching film, I'll be honest: I'm not a big fan. I think this one was a reach. I have this bias when I'm watching running back film: if the tailback is just running through holes untouched, I'm concerned. I want to see broken tackles and five yards after contact (as well as vision and balance), so when the film is just the player darting through a hole and running as far as he can before he's tackled, heck, I could do that (I couldn't).
Now, sometimes that's on the person putting the film together. Sometimes it's the high school coach or one of his assistants, sometimes it's the player himself. Many times, they'll just dig out all the long runs because that's what seems impressive when college coaches will really be looking for broken tackles (and endzone film). But sometimes, it's just that there aren't better clips out there.
So I can see why some services have Bonner as a two-star. He's a project/potential recruit. Which is fine - every good recruiting class has sleepers. You just can't recruit a full class of sleepers (which is maybe the best way to describe last year's class. August was full of five solid Big Ten recruits committing to Illinois. This one is... more of a project.
Which is why I settled on 1.5 Tom Cruises. We missed on those three tailbacks who picked Arkansas and there's not much left out there. We picked Bonner, and he's supposedly having a huge senior season, so we're probably grabbing a guy we think fits our scheme. But I'm still skeptical of this one and can't really go any higher than 1.5.
Ra'Von Bonner - One and one half Tom Cruises