Looks Like University Of Illinois - Richie Petitbon
Doing a little housecleaning here before the Northwestern game. The announcement of Richie Petitbon to Illinois was the "according to a report from an Alabama reporter" variety, and I always wait until it's officially announced before writing the LLOUI post, and then it was officially announced on January 30th and I missed it. But every player must get a LLOUI post, so here's a LLOUI post six weeks too late.
Here's my Richie Petibon timeline:
Jan 14, 2019: "Hey, according to that reporter, Petitbon is going to transfer to Illinois. That fills a nice depth hole. He'll battle for backup minutes at the two guard spots behind Larry Boyd and Kendrick Green."
Jan 23, 2019: Report: Larry Boyd to transfer away from Illinois.
Jan 24, 2019, after letting the Boyd transfer news sink in: "Wow, this Petitbon transfer is massive for 2019. Just massive."
Good thing I'm lazy and waited six weeks to write this post. Because in the "what it means for this roster" category, things changed significantly with Larry Boyd transferring out. Before that announced transfer, I thought the offensive line was set in stone for both the 2019 and 2020 seasons:
LT: Vederian Lowe
LG: Kendrick Green
C: Doug Kramer
RG: Larry Boyd
RT: Alex Palczewski
Nick Allegretti graduates after 2018, Larry Boyd returns from his one-year academic suspension to take his place in 2019, and the line is completely locked in for two more years. One of the main reasons I wasn't too worried about OL depth was the senior-less line for 2019? Swap in Boyd for Allegretti and you have the same line for two more years.
Now it seems to be very obviously "swap in Petitbon for Allegretti". Which is good because experience-wise, there was a huge dropoff after Boyd. Perhaps I'll put it this way. If I wasn't writing this LLOUI for Petitbon, what post would I be writing post-Boyd? Most likely "Can Jake Cerny Play Guard?"
Here's the returning starts for the offensive linemen on the roster so you can see what I mean. I'll include Boyd so you can see that he was (in my mind) clearly the fifth lineman:
Alex Palczweski - 23 starts
Doug Kramer - 20 starts
Vederian Lowe - 19 starts
Kendrick Green - 12 starts
Larry Boyd - 9 starts
Jake Cerny - 0 starts
Kurt Gavin - 0 starts
Jordyn Slaughter - 0 starts
Kievan Myers - 0 starts
Jake Stover - 0 starts
Honestly, of the guys with zero starts, I think only Cerny and Stover have even been in a game on the offensive line (a few guys have played field goal unit and such, but as far as snaps on offense, from the bottom of that list, it's only Cerny and Stover). Which shows you how big this transfer will be for the 2019 Illini offensive line. It gives new OL coach Bob McClain two things to work on his first season:
1. Get Richie Petitbon ready to replace Nick Allegretti as the right guard.
2. Get the 2020 right guard (Myers or Slaughter, I'd assume) as many snaps as possible so that 2020 isn't much of a shock.
I think that's where this whole thing settles for me. With Boyd gone, Petitbon is a bridge between the current situation and the moment the next right guard is ready to join the starters. I'm guessing that next guard is Kievan Myers, who redshirted as a freshman after having academic issues in August. So this will allow the coaches to have a senior starter and a redshirt freshman understudy.
I'm also of the opinion that Verdis Brown ends up on the offensive line. As a redshirt last year he was a defensive tackle, but with these five OL departures since the end of the season, I'm guessing Brown eventually goes offense.
Which would mean the future lines look something like this:
2021: Hmmm... Slaughter-Green-Stover-Myers-Brown?
It will be interesting to see where some of these players end up. Will Julian Pearl end up at offensive tackle or defensive end? Does Verdis stay on defense or move to offense? A recruit like tight end Griffin Moore (already 6'-4" and 235 lbs) - eventual offensive tackle?
Anyway, we can solve that later. For now, let's talk about Petitbon. Yes, he was a top-100 recruit coming out of high school (Reggie Corbin's high school). But after four years at Alabama and zero starts (only appeared in nine games), I think we can say that he was rated too highly in high school. There are reasons his career never took off at Alabama (the constant stream of NFL linemen in front of him, for one, but also his ACL injury during the 2016 season that cost him all of that season and part of the next), but the plain truth here is that they considered him a bust. Much like Oklahoma and AD Miller.
But Alabama busts can still be Illinois starters. You know that whole "how many Illini starters would even make the second string at Alabama" game we play when we watch the national title game? Well, we're about to find out if a second stringer at Alabama can start at Illinois (and be productive). Given the other programs who were apparently pursuing Petitbon (he chose to transfer to Illinois over Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt, according to the original report), I think we'll find out that an Alabama bust can do just fine in the Big Ten West.
There will be no "here's how he looks on film" portion of this LLOUI because high school film doesn't matter here. I guess I could go track down some film when he got some mop-up duty last season at Alabama, but at this point, with this post being six weeks late, I'm not sure it matters (also, lazy). So I'll just go with "can't wait to see him in the spring game". Hopefully he's just what the doctor ordered in replacing Allegretti.
Tom Cruises would be between 2.5 and 3. I'll just say that if I had written this the day that report came out, it would have been 2.5. But after the Boyd transfer, he's massively important for next season. So I'll settle on 3.
Richie Petitbon - Three Tom Crusies