The 90 Illini - 15 ~ 11

Aug 30, 2019

15 to go. I can do it. Nobody is reading these anymore because everyone already knows everything about these players, but I still must see this list through to the end. I'm not going to make either one of these the featured post at the top of the page, so if you're looking for the list, look below for it.

15. Doug Kramer

Offensive Lineman
Hinsdale Central High School / Hinsdale, Illinois
Junior (2 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: not rated

What I Know About Him:

I think he's the only scholarship player on the roster without a Tom Cruise rating. Because he wasn't part of the signing class in 2016, I didn't give him a Looks Like University Of Illinois post. He decommitted from Florida Atlantic because Illinois promised a spot in the following recruiting class, so he was going to skip football for a year and then join the team in 2017. But after Lovie got the job, spots were open and Kramer joined the team in August of 2016.

So I never gave him an LLUOI post. Some of those grayshirt promises never work out, especially through coaching changes, so I guess I felt like a Tom Cruise rating would be premature. Whatever the reason, I'm kind of happy that I never did. I'm sure it would have been too low.

What I Expect From Him:

I'm remembering now how easy these "what I expect from him" evaluations become once I reach the starters. Like, when I get to Reggie Corbin what am I supposed to say. "I expect him to be the star".

What do I expect from Dougie Kramer? He's our starting center the next two years and will be very solid.

14. Quan Martin

Lehigh Acres High School / Lehigh Acres, Florida
Sophomore (4 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 3

What I Know About Him:

My guy! Loved his film, gave him my Asamoah Award, loved him in camp, wasn't surprised at all to see him start nine games and grab three interceptions as a true freshman.

I thought the Quan/Jartavius thing would be cleared up by now, but perhaps he'll just go by both names. I asked him last year and he said it didn't matter, and when I pressed he said "Quan". The coaches call him Quan. But on the roster he's listed as Jartavius (he has input in what it says there, I believe) and his uniform has always said "J. Martin". So I'm going to keep running with Quan Martin but the TV announcers will probably continue to call him Jartavius.

What I Expect From Him:

Fans excited to see Marquez Beason were probably going to be very trigger-happy with Martin this season. At the first sign of allowing any receiver to catch any pass, "put in Beason!". With Beason now out for the season, there won't be much trigger-happy behavior. The dropoff behind the two starters is steep.

So I expect a ton of snaps from Martin and Nate Hobbs. They'll probably use the non-conference games to get backups ready (like Nick Walker and Devon Witherspoon), but once the Big Ten portion of the schedule arrives, look for tons of snaps from Martin and Hobbs.

13. Trevon Sidney

Wide Receiver
Transfer from USC / originially from Pasadena, California
Junior (2 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: 3.5

What I Know About Him:

I know he's been dealing with an injury. It's nothing major (Lovie talks about those), but I'm thinking we might not see him tomorrow. Take it easy with rehabbing this injury and then maybe start to work him in at UConn or at home against Eastern Michigan.

He dealt with a few injuries at USC as well, so that's a concern. When healthy, he's as electric an athlete as I have seen on the practice fields in Champaign. Also, when interviewing him for a post I never wrote (the "Sidney and Sydney" post - always over-promise and under-deliver), I asked him about all the one-handed catches on film at USC and he promised the fans he'd have one in a game this season. So... there you go.

What I Expect From Him:

If healthy, I think he could be the leading receiver. I had him as high as sixth on this list. His injury concerns at camp, combined with his injury history, made me move him down to 13th.

If healthy, he'll fill the Mikey Dudek role. Underneath routes, go-up-and-get-it jump balls, quickness for days. And I think he was almost certainly going to be the punt returner. That's the type of athlete we're talking about here - really quick and dart-y. So he'll play a huge role in this offense.

If healthy.

12. Sydney Brown

St. Stephens Episcopal High School / originally from London, Ontario
Sophomore (4 years to play 3)
Tom Cruises: 3.75

What I Know About Him:

Hey look I'm finally writing the Sidney and Sydney post! I was on the Jeremy Werner Show in late July and Jeremy asked me for a name on each side of the ball (a guy who might have a breakout season) and I said Trevon Sidney on offense and Sydney Brown on defense. He then asked me what I was going to be writing about in the upcoming days and I said "apparently Sidney and Sydney".

((Narrator: He didn't write the post.))

But now that they're next to each other on this list, I can write it. Even though Sydney Brown had no other Power Five offers, I gave him 3.75 Tom Cruises because his film was amazing. And given that we first heard his name when he verballed, I was pretty sure that our coaching staff had discovered somone they didn't want any other teams to hear about so they got his signature before he showed up on the radar.

What I Expect From Him:

I'm standing by those two guys as my breakout guys. Brown started ten games last season as a true freshman, so I guess "breakout" is a bit much, but if we're looking for someone not known as one of our best players right now who is known as one of our best players by the end of the season, I pick Sydney Brown on defense.

HOWEVER, he's dealing with what Lovie called a "significant hamstring injury" right now. When it's the presason and I hear "significant hamstring injury", I see it as "zero chance we see Brown in any of the first three games". So here we go again with Sidney and Sydney. Both ready to break out, both sidelined with injuries at camp.

Man, I'm glad I didn't write that Sidney and Sydney post. It would have been seen as a curse.

11. Mike Epstein

Running Back
St. Thomas Aquinas High School / Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Junior (3 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: 3.25

What I Know About Him:

I wonder what it's like for him to sign his photo on the BTN bus last year (he was the player BTN chose to feature) and then have to watch Reggie Corbin sign his photo on the bus this year. The main reason it's Corbin and not Epstein on the bus is an injury.

Here, I'll show you what I mean. First four games last season (Kent State, WIU, South Florida, Penn State) when both tailbacks were healthy:

Reggie Corbin: 48 carries for 327 yards
Mike Epstein: 48 carries for 324 yards

It was a two-headed monster until one of the heads reaggravated his foot injury and then it was just a one-headed monster. People forget that.

What I Expect From Him:

I expect a return of the two-headed monster. I know people are pointing to the foot injury. It's the same thing that Justin Hardee had which cost him the better part of two Illini seasons, but since then, Hardee hasn't had any foot problems. So I'm trusting that the surgery worked and Epstein is 100%.

Because if he is, we have a two-headed monster. Reggie might be on all the posters and on the bus, but I don't think it's crazy to suggest there's a scenario out there where Epstein has more yards this year.


lucasmeducas on August 30 @ 04:55 PM CDT

Expect Sidney to play tomorrow because he's practiced all week. He'll get 5 catches for 65 yards. Expect Sydney not to play tomorrow because as of Wednesday, he hadn't practiced. If this was a B1G Ten game, I think he'd be in there, but it's Akron and we should dominate without him.

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