Looks Like University Of Illinois - Khalan Tolson
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Getting away to training camp often allows me to catch up on some writing. Such as LLUOI posts and 90i posts. I'm planning to crank out three of these before practice at 2:30. Let's get to gettin'.
Two players verballed in the last week. Linebacker Khalan Tolson and defensive back Jartavius Martin. I'll review Tolson first and then Martin second. Which, to me, is saving the best for last because I think their rankings should be flipped.
That's going to come out as "Robert hates Tolson", and that's fine, but I just watch film and tell you what I think and I like Martin's film more than Tolson. Both a solid defensive additions, but... let's just get to talking about Tolson.
First off, Tolson's position (linebacker) is more of a need than Martin's, at least right now. There was only one high school linebacker in the 2017 class (Marc Mondesir), so it's important to add at least two in the 2018 class. In addition to this, Lovie Smith defenses are defined by their linebackers. You Bears fans always think of Briggs and Urlacher, but when I think of the Lovie Smith defense, I think of what he did with London Fletcher and the 2001 Rams defense.
The Rams had won the Super Bowl in 1999 but then lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2000 with a poor defense. So Lovie was brought in as the defensive coordinator and back to the Super Bowl they go in 2001. There was this one game against the 49ers - it was the week after the NFL games were postponed because of 9/11 - where Fletcher had something like 24 tackles and the Rams defense was declared "fixed" by Lovie. They went on to go 14-2 and make the Super Bowl again before losing to the Patriots. And Lovie was immediately a legend in St. Louis for fixing the D and allowing the Greatest Show On Turf to do their thing.
Where was I? Oh yes - linebackers are important. So when I saw that we landed a linebacker with offers from Michigan/Michigan State/Louisville I was quite excited. We need linebackers, and we especially need linebackers with those offers. Is this the first great Lovie Smith linebacker recruit at Illinois?
So I wandered over to watch some film. And I feel like I need to apologize for this or something but... it wasn't all that great? Don't get me wrong - he's a perfectly capable athlete who can be trained to be a great college linebacker by a linebacker guru. But I was expecting greatness to jump off the film, and I just didn't see it.
All of which is completely unfair to Khalan Tolson. It's just that my expectations went in sky-high and I just didn't see the plays on film that I wanted to see. (Jartavius Martin is another story but that's for a different post).
One more time through the disclaimer: I'm not saying Tolson is bad. I'm not saying it's not a solid get. It's just not the high-end recruit that I was hoping to see. It's not a Carney/Green/Boyd kind of recruit, and we really need those kinds of recruits to finish off this class. He's more just a... middle of the road recruit to me. Which is fine - you can win lots of games in the Big Ten with middle-of-the-road Power Five recruits. I was just hoping for more. See what I mean by "unfair"?
Tom Cruises? Offers would suggest maybe 3.5 Cruises but I don't see that on film. I'm not sure I see three. So I'm going to have to go right down the middle.
Khalan Tolson - two and one half Tom Cruises.