Looks Like University Of Illinois - Deon Pate
This probably isn't fair to Mr. Pate, but I'm going to write this one from press row at the Wisconsin game. So there will probably be some basketball commentary mixed in. As of now, we're down 26-10. Because of course we are.
Defensive line was a big need in this class. We've been talking about that since Lovie took over. We just graduated Dawuane Smoot, Carroll Phillips, Gimel President, Chunky Clements, and Rob Bain. The roster was fairly deep there - we probably don't need to replace all five (although it would be nice), but we needed to get at least four. We added Lere Oladipo, Owen Carney, and Kendrick Green already, and now the fourth is Deon Pate. That's nice. Exactly what we needed.
If we add a fifth (perhaps we flip Jamal Woods from Memphis tomorrow?), I think it will be more of a pure defensive end. Because I think Mr. Pate is like Chunky Clements - arrives as a defensive end, and might play there at the beginning of his career (Chunky did), but will eventually be a defensive tackle.
In fact, his film reminds me a lot of Tymir Oliver last year (who immediately moved from DE to DT once he got on campus. High school coaches use players like this all over the ine, so there's some film on Pate playing DT. And I think he looks more natural there than he does at DE.
Maybe I'm wrong. A lot of the time I make these decisions based on photos, and the photos of Pate on his visit over the weekend - the ones wearing the jersey, standing in front of the Illini backdrop - scream "defensive tackle frame". Man, what an odd thing to type. Who screams "defensive tackle frame?"
Anyway, those things can go either way. Sometimes a player looks like he'll grow into a defensive tackle; sometimes the strength staff will groom them to be more of a Jihad Ward-like strongside end. Either way, we needed another DL guy, and Pate looks pretty good.
He's certainly not at the level of Lere Oladipo or Owen Carney. They both had multiple high-end offers (we kept Penn State and Michigan State away from Oladipo and pulled Carney away from Florida State), and the main competition for Pate was Rutgers. He was actually committed to Appalachian State for a long time, but a big senior year landed him some Power Five offers and he picked Illinois.
(Man, we just can't fight back in this basketball game. We'll cut it to nine but Wisconsin scores every time down it seems. Or they get the offensive rebound.)
I see Pate as a redshirt candidate for sure. I think Carney and Oladipo will both play as true freshmen (rotating with juniors Henry McGrew and Sean Adesanya), and I think Kendrick Green immediately joins the defensive tackle rotation with Jamal Milan, Kenyon Jackson, and Tito Odengibo, so put me down for Pate with a redshirt as we figure out where we want him to play.
Film is solid. Not outstanding (like Green and Carney), not "I'm not sure where he plays on a college team" like James Knight - just solid. He overpowers high school offensive linemen, like any Division I recruit should do. How well he plays in college will be determined by how well he learns technique technique technique. If you haven't heard, we have a pretty good coaching staff when it comes to teaching defensive linemen.
(Just cut it to six. This place is going a little crazy right now. Hold on.
OK, Wisconsin h as pushed back to 14. This place was ready to erupt when Malcolm's three was in the air (could have cut it to three), but, well, of course, that shot never falls anymore.)
Let's get to some Tom Cruises for Pate. This one seems pretty certain - a great senior year bumped him up from Group Of Five to Power Five, but players like that still have a long way to go. Redshirt, get him in the stength program, see what we have in a few years. That's an easy two Toms.
Deon Pate - Two Tom Cruises.