Post-Spring Depth Chart

Apr 18, 2019

Spring ball is complete (well, it's complete after this afternoon's increasingly odd "bowling instead of practice" exercise). Which means it's time for a depth chart and then some mailbaggery. I may hold off on the mailbagging for a bit. I like to let my spring thoughts simmer on low heat for a while - it brings out the flavor. But I will get to the depth chart right away.

Players who weren't here this spring are in italics (freshmen and transfers). And I'm leaving Luke Ford in italics (even though he practiced this spring) until his waiver is approved. Italics means "this guy probably fits in here" and is subject to significant adjustment at training camp. It's a three-deep because Fitzee only believes in two-deeps. Probably.

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) | Pearl (rs-FR)
LG | K. Green (rs-SO) | V. Brown (rs-FR) | Gavin (JR)
C | Kramer (JR) | Stover (SO-walkon) | Engel (FR-walkon)
RG | Petitbon (SR) | Myers (rs-FR) | Plohr (FR)
RT | Palczewski (JR) | Slaughter (rs-FR) | Kirts (FR)
WR1 | Sidney (JR) | Stampley (JR) | Holmes (SO-walkon)
WR2 | Smalling (JR) | Navarro (SO-walkon) | Smith (JR)
WR3 | Davis (SR) | Brissett (SR) | Reams (SR)
WDE | Gay (JR) | Betiku (JR) | Shogbonyo (JR)
DT | Milan (SR) | Avery (SO) | Jackson (SR)
DT | Oliver (SR) | Woods (rs-SO) | Oladipo (rs-SO)
SDE | Roundtree (JR) | Carney (JR) | Okpala (FR)
WLB | Hansen (JR) | Tolson (SO) | Barnes (FR)
MLB | Harding (SR) | Cooper (FR) | McEachern (SO-walkon)
SLB | Ware (SO) | Eifler (JR) | DeGroot (JR)
CB | Hobbs (JR) | Walker (JR) | Hardge (SO)
SS | S. Brown (SO) | Joseph (SO) | Marchese (JR-walkon)
FS | Adams (JR) | S. Green (SR) | Joseph (SO)
CB | Martin (SO) | Beason (FR) | 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 | Beason (FR) | Hobbs (JR) | Adams (JR)
KO Return | D. Brown/Cumby | Stampley/Sandy

There is one and only one takeaway here: Every position is finally filled out with upperclassmen. Mostly juniors, but also actual seniors. All except one position. The most important one. The depth chart at quarterback: true sophomore, true freshman, redshirt freshman, redshirt freshman. Welcome back, Not Ideal.

OK, there are more takeaways than that. Such as...

  • This is the 11th post-spring depth chart I've done since I started blogging, and this is easily the deepest defensive line. There are many names I didn't even include. Deon Pate? He fits in somewhere, but I couldn't knock anyone out of that three-deep. Incoming DL recruits Keith Randolph and Seth Coleman? Both are probably good enough to play right away (like Bobby Roundtree in 2017 and Calvin Avery in 2018), but I'm just not sure who to bump to get them on the three-deep. So for now, they're fourth string. As are Ezekiel Holmes and Marc Mondesir. This many names... that's a very good thing.
  • Conversely, I found it nearly impossible to fill out the wide receiver depth chart. Honestly, no clue. And that's a very bad thing. I'm fairly certain that the main three receivers will be senior Trenard Davis, junior Ricky Smalling, and junior transfer Trevon Sidney. But beyond that, it could be any one of eight different guys. When putting together a depth chart, {shrug emoji} is never a good thing.
  • One thing I forgot to mention about the DL: besides Roundtree, I'm not really sure of the "starters", but I'm not sure it matters. I think there are basically eight starters who will rotate heavily - Bobby Roundtree, Owen Carney, Isaiah Gay, and Wole Betiku at defensive end and Tymir Oliver, Jamal Milan, Calvin Avery, and Jamal Woods at defensive tackle (although Lere Oladipo and Kenyon Jackson will have a lot to say about that). I'd give anything to feel this confident about the wide receivers.
  • I feel so much better about future offensive lines with Julian Pearl and Verdis Brown moving over there. But I'm still very wary of the 2019 offensive line depth. We have four absolute knowns in Lowe, Green, Kramer, and Palcho. But then we just don't know. Hopefully it's Petitbon, but it could be several of the guys from the 2018 class. Maybe I should put it this way: I'm at confidence level 9 for four of the five starters. But then no other player pushes above a 5. Yet.
  • I lied when I said that the walkon who caught my eye in the spring game (Alex McEachern) would go right into my two-deep. I mean, he'd be in my current two-deep, but I bumped him to third string to make room for Shammond Cooper this summer. Still, my eye will be on McEachern all of training camp.
  • Putting this together really makes me think that we might redshirt 75% of the freshman class. Right now I have seven true freshmen in the three-deep (Williams, Beason, Cooper, Okpala, Plohr, Kirts, and Barnes). Plohr and Kirts will almost certainly redshirt, and if guys like Barnes and Okpala are used sparingly (like, say, less than four games), I really do think we might go the full season with only three freshmen burning their redshirts. 2017? 22 freshmen burned their redshirts. 2019? Maybe as few as three.
  • The kicker battle will go right up to the last week of camp, I think. It's good to have two options. May the best man win.

The overall takeaway here: I have no freshmen starting and only those three freshmen (mentioned above) in the two-deep. Yes, a few more will (hopefully) make their way up to the second string, but this is nothing like two years ago today. Two years ago, post-spring, I started writing the intro to my football preview which was basically "MY GOD ARE WE GOING TO START 12 FRESHMEN?" (we ended up starting 15 different true freshmen). Now, I can't really find room to fit in any of the freshmen besides the three big names. 2017? 22 freshmen burned their redshirts. 2019? Maybe as few as three. That's a good thing. That's a depth thing.

But it's not necessarily a "we will now see good football" thing. Good football is hard to picture after the spring game we just watched. There are massive concerns at quarterback, wide receiver, and linebacker. The offensive line has to prove it has depth. We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

And then hopefully, this fall, eastbound and watch ol' Reggie run.


07Illini on April 18 @ 04:51 PM CDT

Robert, I think you forgot Dejon Brissett? He'll be in at least the 2-deep, no?

Robert on April 18 @ 07:17 PM CDT

YEP. I will go edit....

illini_dave34 on April 18 @ 06:43 PM CDT

Was going to post the same thing about brisett

lucasmeducas on April 18 @ 08:16 PM CDT

Always discounting Cumby... He's going to be the punt and kick returner. He was with Coach Ligs during the whole spring game. He'll be a difference maker on special teams and potentially in the slot. You can add him to your 3 who won't redshirt.

Robert on April 19 @ 09:47 AM CDT

I'd love for you to be right, but I don't see it. At least not in 2019. I did put him on kickoff return, but as tiny as he is, I don't see him factoring in on the offense just yet. Needs to add some bulk (like Jarkari Norwood did in the last 10 months). I think a second-year Norwood might factor in more than a first-year Cumby.

Would love to be wrong, though.

IBFan on April 18 @ 08:46 PM CDT


John Case on April 19 @ 12:06 PM CDT

i wont be surprised if keith randolph redshirts but he looks really ready physically to me. i dont see any chance casey washington isnt playing this year.

Eagle on April 19 @ 12:48 PM CDT

Agree that the depth is what stands out compared to previous years. How would everyone rank the second string by position group? I'll go first and say:

RB is best, followed by DL, K/P, DB, Returners, QB, LB, OL, WR

I want QB to be higher but IW needs some experience first.

Sweetchuck13 on April 22 @ 08:21 AM CDT

What about Edwin Carter at WR? Are we expecting him to be back this year? Figured he'd at least be in the 3-deep.

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