January Depth Chart Update

Jan 15, 2019

Someone on Twitter just requested a depth chart update with all of these transfers being added so I kind of want to do the "pick my post" thing and surprise him with a fully-written post 35 minutes after his tweet to me. Right to it.

From the last iteration, this depth chart removes Adam Solomon, Zeke Martin, Carmoni Green, and Cam Watkins (who announced his transfer today). It also adds the four players transferring in: Jeff Thomas and Luke Ford (who might have to sit out a year if they don't get a waiver) plus AD Miller and Richie Petitbon (who are fifth-year transfers and will play right away). I've also added Lere Oladipo to the depth chart again since it was reported that he has rejoined the team after his charges were dropped. This means I'm moving Verdis Brown over to the offensive line. Because it's my depth chart and I'm in charge.

To the chart. Newcomers (transfers and freshmen) are in italics. And I'm going to wishcast a waiver for both Luke Ford and Jeff Thomas.

QB | Rivers (SO) | Williams (FR) | Robinson (rs-FR)
RB | Corbin (SR) -OR- Epstein (JR) | Bonner (JR) | D. Brown (SR)
TE | Ford (SO) | Barker (SO) | Palmer (JR)
LT | Lowe (JR) | Cerny (rs-JR) | Kirts (FR)
LG | K. Green (rs-SO) | Myers (rs-FR) | Gavin (JR)
C | Kramer (rs-JR) | V. Brown (rs-FR) | Stover (SO-walkon)
RG | Petitbon (SR) -OR- Boyd (rs-SO) | Engel (SO-walkon)
RT | Palczewski (JR) | Trainer (rs-JR) | Slaughter (rs-FR)
WR1 | Miller (SR) | Davis (SR) | Navarro (SO-walkon)
WR2 | Smalling (JR) | Reams (SR) | Carter (SO)
WR3 | Thomas (JR) | Stampley (JR) | Sandy (SO)
WDE | Carney (JR) | Gay (JR) | Shogbonyo (JR)
DT | Milan (SR) | Avery (SO) | Jackson (SR)
DT | Oliver (SR) | Oladipo (rs-SO) | Pate (SO)
SDE | Roundtree (JR) | Woods (rs-SO) | Okpala (FR)
WLB | Hansen (JR) | Cooper (FR) | McEachern (SO-walkon)
MLB | Eifler (JR) | Tolson (SO) | J. Marchese (SR)
SLB | Harding (SR) | Hollins (SO) | Knight (JR)
Nickel | Ware (SO) | Thompson (FR) | Bobak (JR-walkon)
CB | Hobbs (JR) | Hardge (SO) | Walker (JR)
SS | S. Brown (SO) | M. Marchese (JR) | Smith (JR)
FS | Adams (JR) | S. Green (SR) | Joseph (SO)
CB | Beason (FR) | Martin (SO) | Wyatt (SO)
Kicker | McCourt (JR) -OR- Griffin (rs-FR)
Punter | Hayes (JR) | McCourt (JR)
Longsnapper | Tabel (JR) | Gaines (rs-FR)
Holder | Hayes (JR) | C. Miller (JR)
Punt Return | Thomas (JR) | Beason (FR) | Hobbs (JR)
KO Return | D. Brown/Cumby | Stampley/Sandy

Some thoughts:

  • Without knowing any tweaks the new defensive coordinator might make, I'm putting 12 defensive players on the depth chart, showing both a nickel and a strongside linebacker. Obviously we're not going to put 12 men on the field (that's a penalty or something). But this is the best way to show it, I think.
  • Making a massive assumption that both Ford and Thomas will be eligible right away, but if that wish comes true, that's a lot of newcomers immediately joining the offensive rotation. For now, I'm putting Ford, Thomas, Miller and Petitbon all in the starting lineup.
  • Petitbon (the Alabama offensive line transfer) will likely battle with Larry Boyd to replace Nick Allegretti. May the best man win. Both will likely be in the rotation (with Boyd perhaps filling in at tackle).
  • I put -OR- next to three (what I believe to be) training camp battles. Petitbon vs. Boyd for right guard. James McCourt v. Caleb Griffin for kicker. And Corbin + Epstein at tailback, which really isn't a battle as much as it is a two-headed monster.
  • Removing Watkins leaves cornerback a little thin. But Quan Martin started eight games this past fall as a true freshman, and I have him as a backup, so maybe it's not all that bad. I'm putting freshman 4-star Marquez Beason immediately into the starting lineup on one side with junior Nate Hobbs on the other side. Martin is the third guy and then there's a big question mark after that. Lovie really needs one of the second year players (Ron Hardge, Dylan Wyatt, or Nick Walker) or maybe the freshman (Joseph Thompson) to step up and grab that spot.
  • Safety is even more of a question mark. Does Tony Adams stay at free safety? (I think he does.) Adams, Brown, and Green are the top three, but who is the fourth guy? (Walkon Michael Marchese and scholarship safeties Kendall Smith, Kerby Joseph, and Dawson DeGroot will battle for that spot). Perhaps Delano Ware isn't a nickel corner and he's the fourth safety? Will be interesting to watch in the spring and summer.
  • I think you have to feel hopeful about a leap for the defensive line with the names on that list all returning a year older. I put Jamal Woods at strongside end (even though he might play at 3-tech defensive tackle) just to balance things out. Despite their youthful struggles this season, I really do think Carney/Gay, Milan/Avery, Oliver/Oladipo, and Roundtree/Woods can make a big leap next season.

Overall, putting together this depth chart leads to one general thought: After the struggles last season, adding Petitbon and Boyd to the OL mix, adding Thomas and Miller to the WR mix, adding Eifler and Cooper to the LB mix, and adding athletes like Williams and Beason really should mean a big step forward when trying to stand toe-to-toe with Big Ten opponents. We are required to speak in "should" after 63-0, but this should be a team that gets a significant boost from the newcomers (and a secondary boost from returning 18 starters).

OK, we're now 41 minutes since that guy tweeted the depth chart request. Watch his face when I'm all "BLAM - here it is".


illiniranger on January 15 @ 06:20 PM CST

SAM has turned into a hybrid player in a lot of defenses. Lot of teams doing this so they don’t have to sub as much. Could see Cooper on the field there, he has a lot of traits you’d like to see in a hybrid Sam. MIKEs have become the “constraint player” for a lot of RPO teams. Defenses are adjusting by interchanging the qualities of a MIKE and WILL. You’re seeing more MIKEs that are agile enough to drop into zone to bluff the RPO. WILL is becoming more of the run plugger because he’s taking run assignments to the weak side, usually filling the B or C gap. Harding could be the backup MIKE. ill be curious how our new DC thinks. If they go “NFL style” I think you’re LB projections hold. If the new guy is more of a college 4-2-5 I think you’ll see a hybrid type player.

IBFan on January 15 @ 06:28 PM CST

Wasn't my tweet but thank you. Awesome looking depth chart compared to years past.

Anyone have a current count on scholarships? Is there a deadline for walkons to be notified of scholarship or previous walkons that now won't be renewed?

phytynlini on January 15 @ 06:48 PM CST

Those SR, JR, and RS SO are so refreshing to see. That's an actual roster!

Hhsillini on January 15 @ 08:22 PM CST

Robert—I’m so worried about your state of mind if you really think we are going to move one of our best recruits in a decade (Verdis Brown) and make him a back up offensive lineman. Brown and Avery will be our starting DT pair for the next 3 years. Book it!

BigRedIllini on January 15 @ 09:42 PM CST

Well I guess we can take Jeff Thomas off the list. Still a lot of great additions to the roster.

track on January 15 @ 09:52 PM CST

Update 10:52pm et Thomas staying at Miami

DGMac on January 16 @ 06:18 PM CST

We need a Ford LLUOI!

Hhsillini on January 16 @ 06:47 PM CST

And a Richie Petitbon LLUOI...

Chukwuwumba on January 17 @ 10:23 AM CST

Might as well just add all the scholarship players to the next depth chart. 10-15 more??? Would like to see how scholarships are allotted to positions. I think you cut it down for some reason, lots of transfers or low scholarship number in spring, or didn’t have enough for a three deep.

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