The 90 Illini - 45 ~ 41

Aug 07, 2019

A little secret: I put together the list in May, and then, after only a few days at camp, I totally obliterate whatever I have left and re-order everything. I just moved so many players around that it makes me wonder why I even try to do a countdown before camp starts.

Maybe it would be fun to list which players moved a lot.

  • I moved Lere Oladipo way up the list.
  • I moved Marquez Beason down on the list.
  • I moved Trevon Sidney up.
  • I moved Shammond Cooper down.
  • I moved Owen Carney up.
  • I removed Bobby Roundtree. :(
  • I added Josh Imatorbhebhe (not in Roundtree's spot, but I needed to add him to the list and removing Roundtree was the only way to do it even though I really wanted to leave Bobby in his spot).

All of those and about six other moves. We're in the top 45, which basically means the full two-deep, so here we go:

45. Kenyon Jackson

Defensive Tackle - #95
Parkview High School / Little Rock, Arkansas
Senior (2 years to play 1)
Tom Cruises: 1.5

What I Know About Him:

I didn't get to see Jackson at camp over the weekend because he was sitting out practice. He was in sweats all of the spring practices I attended as well, so he must be rehabbing from some injury.

Which makes me wonder - might he redshirt? He played as a true freshman so he's one of those "two years to play one more" guys. Perhaps he could sit out a year, rehab whatever injury this is, and then play next year after Milan and Oliver graduate? Just spitballin' here.

What I Expect From Him:

If he does play, he's a nice change-of-pace defensive tackle. Jackson if 5'-11"-ish (Jamal Milan is 6'-3"), so he can be that disruptive, smaller DT with a low center of gravity. If low man wins, and you can add a lot of weight to a 5'-11" frame, a guy like that cna be hard to overpower.

But I still have this small dream of Jackson redshirting and providing depth next year. With Milan + Oliver + Avery + Oladipo + Woods, we have a solid DT rotation for this year. Then, next year, after Milan and Oliver graduate, we could slide Jackson (and Deon Pate) into those spots.

(Remember - don't listen to me. I'm obsessed with running out a team of 44 fifth-year seniors.)

44. Ayo Shogbonyo

Defensive End - #52
Mansfield Summit High School / Arlington, Texas
Junior (2 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: 1.5

What I Know About Him:

He arrived as a linebacker in the Cubit class. Only had one other offer (Army), 2-star in the ratings, 1.5 Tom Cruises. Was a longshot recruit.

Lovie redshirted him and moved him to defensive end. And he was maybe 205 lbs when he arrived, so the last three years have been about adding 35-40 lbs of muscle to his frame. He's probably there now (right around 240 lbs).

What I Expect From Him:

This is difficult to say because in the practices I've watched so far, he hasn't been participating. Some injury rehab I guess. We really need weakside defensive ends to step forward this season, and he's a weakside defensive end, but he hasn't been playing.

If the rotation is going to be Owen Carney and Wole Betiku at strongside end, then two names will need to emerge at weakside end. Isaiah Gay, Marc Mondesir, and Ayo Shogbonyo are the three guys fighting for those minutes (along with the freshmen). Time for some junior leaps.

43. Shammond Cooper

Linebacker - #40
Trinity Catholic High School / St. Louis, Missouri
True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Tom Cruises: 4

What I Know About Him:

So oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh
You need to calm down, you're being too loud

I know you panicked when I said "I moved Shammond Cooper down" above. Hear me out below. First, some things I know about Shammond Cooper.

He's our highest-rated linebacker recruit since Rahkeem Smith in 2006. And Rahkeem Smith ended up as a defensive tackle. So he's probably our highest-rated linebacker recruit since Sam Carson in 2004. Or it maybe even stretches back to the 1990's. When I was in school, we walked around boasting about how Penn State used to call themselves Linebacker U but we were the new Linebacker U. And now, 25 years later, we still haven't added a linebacker who would have started on our 1994 team.

Cooper hopefully changes that. 4-star, should be at Oklahoma, is at Illinois.

What I Expect From Him:

The reason I moved him down: there's a lot of body development that needs to happen. Channel 5 (NBC) in St. Louis covered Illini media day yesterday for the first time in at least a dozen years. Why? Because of all the freshmen from the St. Louis area joining the Illini (Williams, Cooper, Okpala, Randolph). I watched the interviews they posted and someone asks Cooper about strength training and he admits he's a "skinnier" linebacker and will need to add a lot of bulk if he's going to shed tackles.

So I didn't drop him down to 43 on this list because I saw him and didn't think he was very good. I dropped him because he's going to need some weight room work. I still don't think he'll redshirt (his speed would be great on special teams), but I had him in the 20's on my list and he's not going to be one of the 28 most-important Illini this season.

42. Jake Cerny

Offensive Lineman - #73
Traverse City West High School / Traverse City, Michigan
Junior (2 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: 3

What I Know About Him:

Man I love Traverse City. My wife has a friend in Traverse City. We need to get back up there soon. We went to some Cherry Festival thing a few years ago and watched a Simon & Garfunkel cover band while drinking cherry wine. This has been Traverse City Memories with Robert.

Like Shogbonyo, Cerny was in the Cubit class. And this is the year for any of the Cubit class "redshirt him, give him time in the weight room, see what we have when he's a redshirt junior" guys to take a step forward.

What I Expect From Him:

He was our third tackle last season and I think that's his role again this season. And he did replace Vederian Lowe during that one game last year (the game at Wisconsin maybe?) and I don't think Lowe was injured - just having a rough game. So Cerny has been right of the edge of pushing for more playing time.

I don't think he's going to push Alex Palczewski for any playing time (OK I know he's not going to push Palcho for any playing time), but he might push Lowe. And he's certainly the backup at both spots. You always always always need a third tackle who is ready, so having three juniors (Palcho, Lowe, and Cerny) means we're all set for two seasons.

41. Ethan Tabel

Longsnapper - #56
Barrington High School / Barrington, Illinois
Junior walkon (2 years to play 2)
Tom Cruises: not rated - walkon

What I Know About Him:

First off, it's tuh-BELL, not "table". tuh-BELL.

Second, well there isn't a second. Longsnappers are Milford Men - neither seen nor heard. If you don't know their name, that's perfect. It means you never heard something like "so and so snapped it over the punter's head".

What I Expect From Him:

For the next two years He will snap the ball. It will either be caught by the punter and punted away or it will be caught by the holder and then kicked away. He will do this, over and over, mistake free, and we'll never hear His name, and that is a good thing.

(Also, when we do hear His name... it's tuh-BELL.)


deadguy on August 07 @ 09:04 AM CDT

I'm certain that Cerny replaced Lowe in the Rutgers game and it wasn't due to an injury.

I've heard he's been practicing at Guard in the fall which makes me wonder who the backup Tackles are.

Shogbonyo needs to step up this year. That one sack against Purdue nearly put him on par with what Gay did last year which is pretty disconcerting.

thumpasaurus on August 07 @ 09:30 AM CDT

The only non-Illini long snapper whose name I know is Trey Junkin.

Not for the reasons one hopes to be remembered...

Bear8287 on August 07 @ 05:24 PM CDT

For whom does tuh-BELL toll?

Illinimac68 on August 07 @ 11:35 PM CDT

Ask not for whom TaBELL tolls. He tolls for thee. I think we're about Donne here.

CapitalCityOutlaw50 on August 07 @ 07:34 PM CDT

Love the Rahkeem Smith reference. . .

Don't forget the route from Linebacker to Defensive Lineman took a one year detour through. . . .FULLBACK... of all places.

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