The 90 Illini #27: Delano Ware

Oct 12, 2020

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Don't worry, this isn't 100% a 90 Illini site now. I have twelve drafts saved in there, all in order. And they're all formatted and ready to go - they just need words. So expect something like 90i post, 90i post, actual article, 90i post, 90i post, actual article (and so on) all week. To the next 90i...

27. Delano Ware

Uniform number: 15
Year in school: Junior (3 years to play 2; with the Covid rule, technically 4 to play 3)
Height: 6'-0" -- Weight: 220 lbs.
Hometown: Richmond, California
High School: El Cerrito HS
Best offers: Air Force, Nevada, UC-Davis
Tom Cruise rating:

2019 statistics: Played in 9 games - 22 tackles and one forced fumble.


Your reminder: because Lovie refuses to talk about injuries, we never know about injuries. I've made the argument 135 times that Lovie could help his case (his PR case) if he would just be honest about injuries - "four guys who started the Minnesota game didn't finish the Minnesota game and that's really going to hurt us going into Michigan" - but he just doesn't like doing that. As a result, Jeff Brohm gets to lay on soft "4-8 in year three? No problem - it's just injuries" pillows and Lovie lays on a metal cot of his own making.

One of those players who started the Minnesota game: Delano Ware. But he broke his wrist in that game (I don't think we knew that until months later - we just knew that Delano Ware suddenly wasn't playing) and didn't return until Michigan State. Can you imagine some Ohio State player starting a game, getting injured in that game, and then disappearing for five weeks and there's no statement on why he's not playing?

Anyway, let's talk about Ware's background. I see his three seasons like this:

2018 he's a safety. He starts 8 games, five at nickelback because that's the season where they started five defensive backs.
2019 he's part safety, part linebacker. He starts one game (Minnesota) but breaks his wrist.
2020 he's 100% linebacker. He'll start the Wisconsin game because Milo Eifler is suspended for the first half and after that, who knows?

Consider that migration similar to, say, Ayo Shogbonyo. First year was a linebacker. Second year transitioning from linebacker to defensive end. Third year 100% defensive end. Fourth year, starting defensive end. Ware is doing the same, just with safety/linebacker.

2020 Outlook

Lovie said in one of the Zoom press conferences that he considers Ware their "fourth starter" at linebacker. So I'm guessing this season goes something like this:

  • Senior Jake Hansen starts and plays nearly every possible snap.
  • Senior Milo Eifler starts at one OLB spot and gets the second-most snaps, although he sits for a few series here and there.
  • Junior Khalan Tolson starts at the other OLB spot, but splits a lot of time with...
  • Junior Delano Ware, the fourth starter, taking some snaps from Eifler and some snaps from Tolson.

Next season, just slide those up. I don't think either Hansen or Eifler will try to take advantage of the "Covid rule" - I think both will chase the draft - so move those two out and move Shammond Cooper and Tarique Barnes in. I'd guess Tolson moves up to the Hansen spot, Ware to the Eifler spot, and then it's a battle between Cooper and Barnes to see which one is three and which one is four.

So for this season, it's Delano Ware, fourth linebacker. And starter against Wisconsin (Eifler has to sit for a half after a targeting penalty in the bowl game). And after that, well, since Lovie likes to motivate through "someone else gets your starting spot this week" (that's why Sydney Brown sat against Minnesota), expect a few games where Ware maybe starts in front of Eifler or Tolson.


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