Looks Like University Of Illinois - Joseph Thompson

Apr 26, 2018

Here's the thing when you overhaul your skill positions: you have to bring in ATH after ATH. Maybe they're corners, maybe they're wide receivers, maybe they're safeties, but you need to recruit ATH upon ATH upon ATH. That's what Lovie has been doing.

Here's why. In the last 12 months, here are the defensive backs who have left the program:

Darwyn Kelly
Pat Nelson
Chris James
Frank Sumpter
Julian Hylton
Harvey Clayton Jr.

Which is why you saw six defensive backs in the 2018 class and now two (maybe three?) defensive backs so far in the 2019 class. Add to that the three defensive backs in the 2017 class (who are all likely starters this fall - cornerbacks Tony Adams and Nate Hobbs plus safety Bennett Williams), and Lovie basically said this: "I'm going to use two players that I inherited (juniors Stanley Green and Cam Watkins) and then every other player will be a new recruit. Which is why, if we rotate ten players in the secondary this fall (three cornerback spots and the two safety spots) it will be the two juniors, the three sophomores, and then the other five spots will all likely be from the 2018 recruiting class.

And then the next year, even more freshmen. At that point, Lovie will have it built to where he wants it. That 2019 secondary is probably two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores, and two freshmen. From that point forward... roll with that kind of rotation each year. No more of this "80% of the secondary are underclassmen" stuff that we'll see this fall.

That's why a player like Thompson is important. Lovie is very specific about the kind of athlete he wants in the defensive backfield, and he can't get those players in here quick enough. Out the door went six inherited players (in 12 months), and now in the door comes ATH after ATH after ATH.

My comparison for Thompson is Kendall Smith (ATH in the 2017 class who was tried at wide receiver last fall and then safety this spring). In-state ATH recruit, committed in late April (I just went to look it up - Smith committed two years ago today), might have had more offers in May or during camp season in June but was locked down early, probably doesn't have a specific position but you bring him in because we need ATH after ATH after ATH.

Thompson committed to Iowa State last month but (obviously) changed his mind and decided to stay home. "Home" because he's from Chicago Phillips. Which, really, is a post in and of itself. Phillips has quickly become a powerhouse program in Chicago with two state titles and a runner-up finish in the last four years. They have three P5 recruits this year (Thompson plus Jahleel Billingsley and Fabian McCray), and Lovie hopes to grab all three. At this point I'm OK with a race - will we add more Phillips players or more Trinity Catholic players?

Watching film I'm not crazy high on Thompson. He's really skinny right now (I saw him at the spring game - really skinny), so I see a kid like that as a "later rather than sooner" kind of recruit. Need to get him in a weight program, add some weight without losing speed, and build a defensive back. He's a great athlete, though, and looks like he has good instincts in the defensive backfield, so once we add that weight we might have something.

For Tom Cruises I think I need to go with the Kendall Smith rating. Similar players, similar recruitments, similar verbal dates, similar "he's an ATH so let's get him here and then experiment for a few years". So I need to go with similar Tom Cruises.

Joseph Thompson - two and one-half Tom Cruises.


1970 John on April 27 @ 08:30 AM CDT

From what I've read, Thompson has known and played alongside Jahleel Billingsley since grade school and although he's known Fabian McCray for just a year, the three of them have become really tight. Each kid has to make his own decision --although Billingsley senior has been talking up Illinois like crazy on Twitter so there's that--but a three-fer is entirely possible.

jdapisa on April 27 @ 12:15 PM CDT

Other way around. He’s know. Fabian for a long time and Jahleel for the past year.

You’re really underselling this one Robert. Fantastic school and City to pull a recruit from, has a good skill set and from all reports is a great young man and team leader. This is a no doubt take.

CraigG on April 30 @ 07:45 PM CDT

As said before, other way around. I really like Thompson, more than Robert's 2.5 TCs. In baseball terms he is toolsy. He doesn't possess an elite trait, but his skill set is above average. He is better in pass pro and will need to work in the run game, but he is a bigger version of V'Angelo Bentley.

John Case on April 27 @ 01:08 PM CDT

I think your assessment is dead on. About as twitchy an athlete as you will see. SOOOOOO raw with his technique. I wonder what he would be like if he got some form to his technique? The weight doesn't bother me. Thats easy to fix. These are the types of guys on defense that help you win. Quick twitch, quick reaction players. Lovie is recruiting to a profile with these DB's.

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