The 90 Illini - 20 ~ 16

Aug 29, 2019

I couldn't sleep last night after writing the 90i post. No idea why. It had my brain buzzing all evening, thinking about the season. Want to know my trick for getting myself to sleep at times like that? I listen to the end credits music from Cast Away. It ends with three minutes of just wave sounds crashing on the shore. If you ever need to sleep, put your earbuds in and listen to the end credits from Cast Away. Fair warning, though: you'll fall asleep with your earbuds in, and if they're wired and not wireless, you'll wake up later wrapped in the cord.

I don't have a point here. Let's just get to number 20.

20. Delano Ware

El Cerrito High School / Richmond, California
Sophomore (4 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 3

What I Know About Him:

I debated my decision to put Ware #20 and Eifler #24. I think Eifler starts at Sam linebacker on Saturday. So why have Ware ahead of him?

Wait - I'm already doing it. I'm doing the "what I expect" part under "what I know". Ware was a late addition to the 2018 class from the town right next to Bennett Williams' town. Because of that, and because of some great film, I had him rated as one of the top seven players in our 2018 class. See, there's something in the water in the East Bay that creates great college safeties.

That's where he was last season, but this year he's being tried at linebacker. I'm not sure if that's permanent - I just wrote in the Derrick Smith LLUOI that his arrival might send Ware back to safety - but for now, he's a strongside linebacker.

What I Expect From Him:

OK, now I can talk about it. Why do I have Ware ahead of Eifler on this list? Because I have this feeling that Ware eventually gets more snaps. I probably lean a little too much into my recruiting excitement here - I loved his film, I was excited to see him as a freshman, I loved his play as a true freshman, so I see a really great trajectory - but I can't help it. I think he's a great defensive football player.

And honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to see him rotate between SLB and SS at times. Maybe as simple as SLB this year and then once Smith is eligible next year, back to SS. I heart Delano Ware, is what I'm saying.

19. Tymir Oliver

Defensive Tackle
West Philadelphia Catholic High School / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Senior (2 years to play 1)
Tom Cruises: 3

What I Know About Him:

Oliver was one of the scoop-ups by Bill Cubit (players who had decommitted from other programs in late 2015 like Dele Harding and Jake Hansen). Oliver was committed to Rutgers, Kyle Flood was fired, Oliver decommitted, and Cubit scooped him up.

And he's one of Lovie's first seniors (like Harding). Lovie inherited Oliver for his freshman year, played him immediately, and now he's a senior with two years of eligibility. Ideally he would have redshirted but after the Purdue loss in 2016, Lovie went full-on rebuild.

What I Expect From Him:

He's one of the senior anchors for this team. He's not going to be a superstar or even an all-conference guy, but he can be that senior leader who had his best year his final year. He has 22 starts in his career, and by the time a guy reaches 25 starts, they're usually really solid college players.

It will be a deep rotation at DT - up to seven guys will play. I'm guessing Jamal Milan and Oliver get the most snaps, though. Seniors going out with their best years.

18. Kendrick Green

Offensive Lineman
Peoria Central High School / Peoria, Illinois
Redshirt Sophomore (3 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 3.75

What I Know About Him:

We appear to have entered the "guys I really liked in each recruiting class" phase of The 90 Illini. Loved Ware in 2018, had him in my top 7 in that class. Loved the late Oliver pickup in 2016, had him in my top 5. Loved adding Green in 2017, had him in my top 5 for that class.

And Green's recruitment was interesting. Before his senior year of high school he had one P5 offer (from Minnesota). So if you looked up his ranking on August 28th, 2016, he was pretty much an unknown recruit possibly headed to a MAC school. Then he helps lead his team to a state title, puts out some great senior film, and gets offers from Iowa, Illinois, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Notre Dame. And his ranking climbs up to a near four-star. And somehow, with most everyone on earth thinking he's headed to Iowa (his Crystal Ball was 100% Iowa), he picks Illinois.

His first year he was at defensive tackle (while redshirting). Last offseason he moved to offensive guard. And now he's going to start 50 games there.

What I Expect From Him:

His best asset is his leg strength (as could be seen from that one Lou Hernandez tweet where he squatted like 650 lbs). He was a wrestler in high school and has that really great base. It feels like some wrestling guys have their center of gravity in their ankles.

So he's set up for four great years on the offensive line. A little better each year and he should be fighting for All Conference honors as a junior and senior. He's a little undersized, so his best position might be center, but since we have an even smaller guy there (Doug Kramer), Green is best utilized at left guard.

17. Owen Carney

Defensive End
Miami Central High School / Miami, Florida
Junior (3 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: 4.25

What I Know About Him:

Yes, this is definitely the "guys I really loved when evaluating film" portion. Green got 3.75 Cruises, Carney got 4.25. It was Carney, not Bobby Roundtree, who was the jewel of the 2017 defensive class (on paper). Roundtree obviously was the best talent in the class, but Carney is starting to come into his own.

And it was a battle between Illinois and Florida State for him. Having his high school teammate Carmoni Green already verballed to Illinois was probably a big help in landing Carney. Green is off to Lamar now, but Carney is still here and is likely primed for a big jump this season.

What I Expect From Him:

It's unfair, but he'll be seen as the guy who replaced Roundtree. Both started last year (with Carney on the weakside and Roundtree on the strongside), but now Carney moves to Roundtree's spot on the strongside. He can't replace Roundtree - I think Roundtree would have played one more season before declaring for the NFL draft, and I don't think Carney is that type of player - but he can still be our best defensive end.

I'm guessing though, since he's replacing Roundtree, that he'll be seen as failing to live up to expectations this year. We've had talented receivers replace an injured Mikey Dudek in the past, but none of them came close to Dudek's production. I don't think anyone will come close to Roundtree's production, so all of his replacements will be viewed as failing, but at the end of the year, I think we'll look back at Carney's season and be pleased.

16. Daniel Barker

Tight End
Deerfield Beach High School / Deerfield Beach, Florida
Sophomore (4 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 3

What I Know About Him:

Yes, this is absolutely the "guys I liked" portion. I had Barker rated highly in the 2018 class. In the LLUOI post I compared him to Louis Dorsey, went back to see that I had given Dorsey 3 Cruises, and decided to give Barker 3 Cruises. And then, with Dorsey leaving the team midseason last year, Barker became his replacement. In more ways than one.

Barker was also a guy who benefitted from switching high schools. He played for a small school as a junior, didn't have much exposure, switched to Deerfield Beach as a senior, did a full midwest tour with his high school coaches during camp season, and got offers from Illinois, Kentucky, and Pitt. Thank God he picked Illinois.

What I Expect From Him:

Lovie has probably mentioned Daniel Barker more than any other player at training camp. Reporters would ask the standard "who is sticking out to you?" questions and many times Lovie would say "Daniel Barker". That often means a player is primed to take on a much bigger role.

I do have one conceren, though. I'm almost certain Barker is going to get an excessive celebration penalty this season. If there was a way to bet that in Vegas, I would. I felt like he was very close to one for his dance after the touchdown in the Minnesota game last year. And some of his dances after scoring touchdowns at camp were definite 15 yarders. Hopefully the coaches are in his ear about possible penalties. But even if they are, he's such an excitable kid, I fear the New Tweeter Endzone Dance will just have to come out. And the flag will fly.


Douglascountyillinifan on August 29 @ 10:35 AM CDT

I HATE the fun police! Let the kids celebrate, both in College and in the league.

Norcal Illini on August 29 @ 10:43 AM CDT

Just nitpicking here, but El Cerrito High School is in El Cerrito (an actual city), not Richmond. John Fogerty was in the ECHS class of 1963.

Illinimac68 on August 29 @ 10:58 AM CDT

I love that John Fogerty just got back from Illinois.

Bear8287 on August 29 @ 11:35 AM CDT

Bother me tomorrow, today, I'll buy no sorrow

STLIllini94 on August 29 @ 03:58 PM CDT

Ha, Varsity Blues reference, I like it.

jfinsocal on August 30 @ 03:51 PM CDT

My prediction is that Green will be in the NFL for his would be Senior season.

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