The 90 Illini - 30~26

Aug 09, 2018

Gonna try to squeeze in a 90i post before I writing up some more practice thoughts. And I just did my yearly camp adjustments to the list. Every year, inside the top-30, there are all kinds of adjustments after seeing the practices. There's a few guys I wish I had up in this top-30, but those are the breaks.

30. Carmoni Green

Wide Receiver
Miami Central High School / Miami, Florida
Sophomore (4 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 3.5

What I Know About Him:

Green and Owen Carney were a big part of the recruiting haul in 2017. Lovie has recruited several sets of high school teammates, and Green + Carney from Miami Central are near the top of the list.

Unfortunately, he's probably known by Illini fans for one play: the muffed punt against Rutgers. Mikey Dudek was injured in the game, so Carmoni Green was forced into action as the punt returner. And as the punt bounced past him, I believe he got it in his head that it might have hit him or Cam Watkins standing near by. So a punt that didn't hit anyone and was just going to roll to a stop was suddenly pounced on by Green... and it squirted out and was recovered by Rutgers.

These are the things that happen when you have 22 true freshmen on the field, so I felt bad for that play (and other plays by other players) last season which put all of those mistakes on display. The Iowa freshman is making that mistake in practice and hearing about it from the coaches. The Illinois freshmen were all on the field, broadcasting their mistakes to a Big Ten audience.

What I Expect From Him:

With the season-ending injury to Appalachian State transfer Shaedon Meadors this summer (before camp), the third wide receiver spot is wide open behind Mikey Dudek and Ricky Smalling. Green is a guy who could easily step into that role. Which is why I have him up here in the top-30.

Do I think he will be the number 3 guy based on what I've seen at camp? I do not. Other guys have made a surge, I think. But Green has the quicks to get high up in the rotation. Made a really nice catch on a long bomb today, in fact, tracking with a ball that was fading away from him, making the adjustment, haulting it in, and taking it for six.

29. Tony Adams

Defensive Back
St. Louis University High School / Belleville, Illinois
Sophomore (4 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 3

What I Know About Him:

Injuries have cost him his last two football seasons. In high school, it was an ACL tear in his fourth or fifth game. As a freshman last year, it was a shoulder injury in the fifth game that cost him the rest of the season (and the spring).

He was a guy who came in as an ATH recruit and started several games at cornerback before the injury. And there's a chance, I think, that he could move to offense before all is said and done. That's just a personal guess of mine based on a defensive player who had a shoulder injury while tackling someone. Call it my personal STEVEHULL rule - shoulder injuries sometimes determine that a player is better off not tackling people. Again, just a personal theory - all indications are that Adams remains a cornerback.

What I Expect From Him:

As I said in a post yesterday, I think he's part of "three starters for two spots" at cornerback with Nate Hobbs and Cam Watkins. And I also think he's in the mix at punt returner. Dudek will be the guy there, but if for some reason they don't want Dudek out there for punt returns, I think Adams might be the next guy up in that spot.

He's a personal favorite of mine, so I hope he's healthy. Would love to see him finish a football season injury-free.

28. Dre Brown

Running Back
DeKalb High School / DeKalb, Illinois
Junior (2 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: 3.5

What I Know About Him:

Speaking of wanting to see a player finish a season injury free... Dre Brown!. He finished last season injury free. After two ACL tears and FOUR knee surgeries, he finally got on the field last year. At first it was just a few plays here and there, but by the final two games, he was a big part of the offense. He had 15 carries for 76 yards at Ohio State (including one 30-yard scamper) and then had two big kickoff returns against Northwestern, returning both of them to the Northwestern 49.

He also got married this offseason (his wife was at practice today, actually). It's funny - at Camp Rantoul, there would sometimes be some girlfriends hanging around and other coaches would get a little upset about it - "this is camp time, not girlfriend time". I haven't seen that from Lovie, but even if I had, could he really say anything about Dre Brown talking to his wife after practice? I feel like he'd encourage it.

What I Expect From Him:

First off, my hope is that he's the #1 kickoff return guy. You return two kicks into the opponent's territory in your last game, it should be your job until proven otherwise. So for starters, I demand Dre Brown Kick Returner. Also, Dre Brown Kickoff Coverage Team - he's perfectly suited for special teams.

But I also think he can contribute in the backfield. I think Epstein is the starter and Corbin is the #2, but I could see Rod Smith using four tailbacks in the rotation this season, especially in games where he wants to go up-tempo. You need a lot of players rotating in and out, and I think Brown will be one of them.

27. Jamal Woods

Defensive Lineman
Hueytown High School / Hueytown, Alabama
Sophomore (4 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 1.5

What I Know About Him:

And the winner of the Least Talked About Player Who Should Be Talked About More award goes to... Jamal Woods. Did you know that he...

  • Started four games? Three of them in front of Bobby Roundtree who was second string those three weeks?
  • Had 24 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss?
  • Was honorable mention on the Big Ten All Freshman team?

Ten Illini freshmen made that BTN All Freshman Team, either on the "team" or honorable mention. Nine you could guess off the top of your head (Louis Dorsey, Ricky Smalling, Bennett Williams, etc). You'd likely need a lot of guesses to get to the tenth - Jamal Woods.

What I Expect From Him:

The big question has been (and will probably continue to be): is Woods a defensive end or a defensive tackle. He played both last year (I think he started one game at DT and three games at DE). In a sense it doesn't matter - strongside DE is very close to 3-technique DT in this scheme, so it's good to have a swing guy who can play both. But where Woods ends up will probably determine where other players end up.

For now, I think he'll mostly be a defensive end. Just this morning at practice I was thinking about having a swing guy between all four positions. Owen Carney can be the swing guy between weakside DE and strongside DE. Woods can be the swing guy between strongside DE and 3-tech DT. And Lere Oladipo can be the swing guy between 3-tech DT and nose tackle.

I like that a lot. Let's not worry about where Woods ends up. Just know that he'll contribute this fall (and even more the next two seasons.

26. Larry Boyd

Offensive Lineman
Trinity Catholic High School / St. Louis, Missouri
Sophomore (4 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 4

What I Know About Him:

It's hard to start with anything else besides the suspension rumors. He's been at practice, so he's not currently suspended from the team, so in that sense he's not "suspended". But the rumors still swirl that he'll be suspended the first game (and maybe beyond that).

For now, I'm not worrying about it. I'm looking at him as if he's part of this team (because he is and he took to Twitter to go after those who were suggesting a transfer was coming). Right now, he's a swing guy who can play some tackle and some guard. And he can do that with an NFL-potential frame. Stand next to Larry Boyd and I guarantee you can see him in the NFL.

What I Expect From Him:

My current theory is that the coaching staff will be grooming him to replace Nick Allegretti at right guard next year. I think the coaches like Vederian Lowe and Alex Palczewski as their tackle pairing the next three years, so I can see Boyd fitting in at guard next season. Lowe-Green-Kramer-Boyd-Palcho? I see a good line there.

This season? Well, I guess I have to talk about the suspension rumors again. If he's suspended, then he's not really going to contribute this season very much. And that might not be a bad thing. Say he's suspended for six games and then they only use him in four of the final six games. Well, there's a redshirt and there's Larry Boyd still being around for the 2021 season.


PapaDels4me on August 10 @ 09:51 PM CDT

This is the first of all of the sweets that has given me any optimism, Robert. I read your post about depth, then I read the prior five and you really don't expect enough then. Hmm, depth is required but not much is expected of 31-35. Damn, it's really true isn't it? We're not going to be good for at least another year, are we?

Well, at least we are getting better. But not very fast. You've clarified it for me. I guess that's good. Sort of.

ballislife17 on August 11 @ 08:41 PM CDT

Keep in mind Robert ranks freshmen lower than most probably would. There will be freshmen who make a lot of positive contributions this year who were 60+ on this list (Especially in the secondary).

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