Looks Like University Of Illinois - Moses Okpala

Nov 13, 2018

I always say this but I'll say it again. I HATE when these LLUOI posts are hanging out there unfinished. I sometimes daydream about what it would be like to not have a real job - 40-50 hours every week where I could write and write. But, after struggling with it for nearly ten years, I just have to accept it - sometimes, in an internet world where people want to read about a new recruit within hours, I won't be able to write about him for days, sometimes weeks. It's so dumb, and it's not at all how to Internet in 2018, but such is the life of the guy with a real job.

SO, with some time to write, let's get to the two players who verballed in the last few weeks. Starting with the one from St. Louis. Because St. Louis.

One big defensive issue this season (one of 37 issues) - setting the edge. You might remember how that was an issue with the 2013 team. Young defensive line, Wisconsin running "power", like, 18 times in a row while the edges of our defensive line collapse. The next year, the Illini recruited Jihad Ward specifically to stop that from happening. And, for the most part, it did (that and the physical maturation of Smoot and Phillips).

That's the best comp I can put together here. He's not a junior college guy like Jihad Ward, but Moses Okpala is the "immovable object at the strongside end position" that this defense currently lacks. It would be great if he was a juco - 20 year-olds are ready much faster than 18 year-olds - but I'll still take it. The hope is that we can find a similar mix in a few years - physical maturation of the current guys (Bobby Roundtree, Owen Carney, Isaiah Gay) plus big plays from the massive guy (Moses Okpala).

Did that work when the names were Dawuane Smoot/Carroll Phillips and Jihad Ward? Yes it did. If you just go by the S&P+ numbers for those defenses, the 2013 defense was ranked 103rd, the 2014 defense 83rd, and the 2015 defense 15th. All pretty much overhauled by a defensive line that grew up (and added a big guy for the edge).

(And yes, the 2015 defense was 15th nationally. And the offense was 96th under Cubit & Son, making what should have been an 8-4 season 5-7. And then Cubit fired defensive coordinator Tim Banks and made his son the permanent offensive coordinator, giving him a 396% raise.)

OK, so what are we getting in Okpala besides "a very large 18 year-old" (6'-7", 260-ish right now). Mostly, this is a raw material recruit. He's not a polished football player because he hasn't been playing football for a long time. Again, this reminds me of Jihad Ward. Ward was a wide receiver in high school grew and grew and grew at junior college, and ended up at defensive end but not knowing how to play defensive end. That first camp for Ward (August of 2014) he was very, very raw (i.e. had no idea what he was doing yet), but you can't teach massive arms and massive shoulders swatting people out of the way.

So the path for Okpala will be similar. Teach him how to use his size. There are about 137 specific little techniques you need to learn if you want to play defensive end, so next year at camp will be a big training session for Okpala.

Film? Raw. That's about all you can say. You can tell he is new to football. Defensive end in high school is "shove skinny guy in front of you out of the way and then go grab whoever has the ball". And with his size, he can do that. College is so much more than that, so we're back to the same thing: need to take all of this raw potential and turn him into a Big Ten football player.

But that's exactly how I believe you should recruit. Lines: recruit physical tools. Skill players: recruit advanced athletes trained in specific techniques who are ready to contribute early.

Tom Cruises seem pretty straightforward here. Good offer list, exactly what we need on the roster, just will need time to develop. That's a 3.5 Cruise recruit.

Moses Okpala - three and one-half Tom Cruises


illiniranger on November 13 @ 11:09 AM CST

Solid recruit, type of multiple P5 offer 3* player we will grow the program with.

Wonder if he moves to OT given his size?

uilaw71 on November 13 @ 12:47 PM CST

Some of us golf and read illiniboard in our spare time. Never let work interfere with what really matters!

HiggsBoson on November 13 @ 05:25 PM CST

Sounds like a good get and potentially a great get. rite when you can. You and the other contributors have a unique perspective that's worth a little wait.

Speak Your Mind

Please login or register to post comments on the IlliniBoard.