Looks Like University Of Illinois - Jakai Clark

Dec 02, 2018

I think I'm going to crank out three posts today before the Nebraska game. It's the only way to blog. Two posts from Wednesday through Saturday, four posts on Sunday. I'm way behind on LLOUI posts, so let's knock out two of those right now. Starting with Jakai Clark.

Let's begin with Clark's Auburn commitment/decommitment. Because these are the positions where I'd make my living if I was a recruiter.

On April 7th of this year, two things happened. Jakai Clark was offered by Auburn and his high school teammate, 5-star Owen Pappoe, started to see his Crystal Ball change from 100% Georgia to "maybe Auburn?". Clark verballed to Auburn three days later. Pappoe verballed to Auburn three weeks later. It seems clear to me that Auburn was going to the high school teammate route to lure Pappoe away from their home-state Georgia.

Then, months later, Clark decommitted from Auburn. Did he just have a change of heart? Did he feel like they fawned over his teammate more than him? Did the Auburn coaches stop communicating with him? We don't know, but suddenly a player headed to Auburn was back on the market. We swooped in (as did Arizona), Clark visited both, and picked Illinois. That's exactly where we need to live. A player perhaps feels un-prioritized by an SEC power? Slide in there and offer early playing time.

Clark projects as a center, so really, it's a pretty good position for him to slide in. When he arrives on campus, the starting center will be a junior (Doug Kramer). So that sets up as the perfect transition plan. Kramer starts while Clark redshirts in 2019. Kramer starts with Clark his redshirt freshman back up in 2020 with Clark getting his feet wet in garbage time. And then Clark gets to start at center for three years.

Yes, he might move to guard. There's no guaranteeing that he's going to be a center. But for now, when I put together a future depth chart, that's where he'll be.

Speaking of, that future depth chart is really important. Next season, the starters are all juniors and sophomores, meaning the 2021 depth chart at offensive line is wildly important for program continuity. Right now I see it this way:

2019: Vederian Lowe (JR), Kendrick Green (SO), Doug Kramer (JR), Larry Boyd (SO), Alex Palczewski (JR)
2020: Vederian Lowe (SR), Kendrick Green (JR), Doug Kramer (SR), Larry Boyd (JR), Alex Palczewski (SR)
2021: Larry Boyd (SR), Kendrick Green (SR), Jakai Clark (rs-SO), Kievan Myers (rs-JR), Jordyn Slaughter (rs-JR).

On film, Clark certainly fits the mold of what they seem to want in a center (i.e., he plays like Dougie Kramer plays). Shorter guy, plays low to the ground, just do the whole "who can stay lower" with the nose tackle. Offensive linemen are always the hardest to project from high school to college, so really, film review is a bit useless. But as for what this staff is trying to do line-wise, he fits.

And with the way this has played out on the offensive line (the starters are all juniors and sophomores next year, the backups are all juniors and sophomores next year, guys like Reuben Unije have already left), this has become a very important class for offensive line. Once everyone graduates after 2020, there will be two returning starters (Green and Boyd) with three open spots. Right now, there are only five linemen for those three spots (Clark, Slaughter, Myers, walkon Jake Stover, and the-guy-I'm-going-to-LLUOI-next, Evan Kirts). There need to be at least eleven guys fighting for those three spots by the time that season arrives.

For Tom Cruises, here, I feel like it's right in the center of the ratings. His composite rating is fairly low, the need for a center is very high, the offers were good in the spring and not as good when he decommitted from Auburn. So I'm putting this one right in the middle.

Jakai Clark - two and a half Tom Cruises.


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