The 90 Illini - 80 ~ 76

Jun 15, 2019

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It's crazy that it's June 15th and we still have no resolution to the transfer quarterback issue, right? I mean, maybe we do have a resolution - we're not getting a transfer quarterback - but here I am, counting down, not knowing if I'm supposed to be saving a spot for the guy who might be our starting quarterback. Wheeeeee.

80. Brandon Jones

Tight End ~or~ Defensive End
Hickman High School / Columbia, Missouri
Junior (2 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: 1

What I Know About Him:

I know I feel awful that he's the only player to ever receive one Tom Cruise. At least I think that's the case. I really should have a database of all the Tom Cruise ratings now that the entire roster has a rating.

Jones was the player who picked Illinois a few days after Tim Beckman was fired and Bill Cubit was hired. His only other offer at the time was FCS Missouri State, so it appeared, at the time, that he was grabbing that Illinois offer from the interim coach before it expired.

As an aside, man, that was a weird time. You might recall that I stopped doing LLUOI posts right after the Tim Beckman allegations dropped. I was fairly certain that the players in the class that summer wouldn't be the players in the class that winter (I believe 11 players total decommitted), and I didn't want to write a bunch of LLUOI posts for players headed elsewhere, so I wanted until our coaching situation was resolved (not ideal) to assign Tom Cruise ratings to each player.

What I Expect From Him:

Well, he played some defensive end this spring and he played some tight end. It's never good when you enter your fourth season and I'm listing you as "tight end ~or~ defensive end". I think his move back to DE this spring was mostly related to all of the defensive ends who were rehabbing injuries, but that's where he's still listed on the depth chart.

Which is why I have a redshirt junior down here at #80. This is the year where he has to force his way onto the field. Because if he doesn't, there's probably a conversation after the season where he's received his four scholarship years (and has his degree) and doesn't come back for a fifth year.

If he does? It's probably at tight end. There are so many snaps available there this season, especially since Luke Ford's waiver was denied.

79. Casey Washington

Wide Receiver
Pflugerville High School / Pflugerville, Texas
True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Tom Cruises: 1.5

What I Know About Him:

What's the word the kids use? Clapback? Casey Washington is the only player to ever clapback about his Tom Cruise rating. (Does one clapback "about" something? I need to sit down with my youngest son for some lessons again.) I gave Washington 1.5 Cruises and said something like "I just don't see it" and he screencapped that and put it on Twitter saying something like "this only makes me stronger, Robert". So when he has a dominant freshman season, you're welcome.

What I Expect From Him:

I have no idea how to rank the wide receivers on this list. It's so incredibly wide open. The top two receivers in the spring game were walkons, so I have both of them higher on this list. But really, it could be any one of 10-12 guys finding their way into the rotation of 5-6 receivers.

For Washington, since I have him down here at #79, I'm not expecting him to be one of those 5-6 guys. Which is perfectly fine. Two years ago we needed nearly every one of the freshmen to play. This year, I think we might see 60% of the freshman class redshirt (and there aren't many to begin with). So put me down for Washington redshirting, learning the position, and then starting to prove me wrong next season.

78. Julian Pearl

Offensive Lineman
Danville High School / Danville, Illinois
Redshirt Freshman (4 years to play 4)
Tom Cruises: 1.5

What I Know About Him:

This will be a second freshman season for Pearl (which, I guess, is what a redshirt freshman season really is in the first place). But last year he was a freshman defensive end who redshirted. This year he'll be a freshman offensive tackle who is "redshirting" while he learns the position.

It's similar to what the coaching staff did with Kendrick Green (and Nick Allegretti and Christian DiLauro). First year, learn defensive line technique while redshirting. Next four years, play offensive line.

What I Expect From Him:

Because he just made the switch this spring (and because he still needs to add a lot of weight), I don't think he'll play this season. Well, he'll "play" in mop-up duties here or there (and maybe field goal team), but I don't think he'll be part of the regular offensive line rotation.

His focus: the two starting tackles are juniors (Alex Palczewski and Vederian Lowe). So it's two years of learning and then two years of starting. His focus needs to be on winning one of the starting OT jobs in 2021.

77. James Knight

East St. Louis Senior High School / East St. Louis, Illinois
Junior (3 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: 2

What I Know About Him:

I just searched and searched and couldn't find anything about his spring injury. I saw the injury, but you can't really talk about injuries until the coaching staff has had the chance to make a statement after practice. And I didn't stick around for that presser after that practice, so I didn't hear what Lovie said (or if anyone even asked). And then I saw him not participate in the spring game because of the brace he was wearing from the injury he sustained, but again, I can't find any statements about it.

So I'll just say that Knight sustained an injury in the spring and I hope it's not serious but it might be? I don't know how I'm supposed to handle this. I did my job and didn't say anything three months ago. And now that there's nothing I can find out there, maybe the injury just wasn't serious? But to me, it was serious enough that I dropped him down to #77 on this list because maybe this will be a redshirt year?

What I Expect From Him:

I'll just go with what I said above. If his spring injury was serious, and since he played as a true freshman in 2017, maybe this will just be a rehab year.

If the injury wasn't serious and he's full go at camp, then it will be interesting to see where he ends up. I'm guessing at Sam linebacker after rotating between nickel, linebacker, and safety the last few years.

76. Carlos Sandy

Wide Receiver
Cardinal Gibbons High School / Dania Beach, Florida
Sophomore (4 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 1.5

What I Know About Him:

Sandy falls into the "Lovie loves track guys and will recruit a lot of them, attempting to turn them into college football players" category. And when I say "track guy", I mean track guy. Sandy tweets more about track and field than any Illini player I've ever followed.

The thing we don't know about him: can he be a college wide receiver? He played football in high school, so it's not like he's some track-only guy we're teaching to play football. But he definitely has a lot to learn about routes and footwork and blocking.

What I Expect From Him:

I'll probably say this for every receiver on this entire list: he might lead the team in catches and he might be ninth on the team in catches. It's wide, wide open.

Like, if I was talking about a running back, I don't think I'd suggest that anyone ranked in the 70's could get carries in front of Corbin or Epstein (or Brown or Bonner). For wide receivers? Ricky hasn't grabbed the spot. The transfers are in the same pool as everyone else. It's wide, WIDE, open.


AHSIllini32 on June 15, 2019 @ 01:20 PM

Leave a spot for a grad transfer qb somewhere high...

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