Looks Like University Of Illinois - Christian Bell
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Adding the first of what I believe will be five transfers this spring/summer made me look back and see how I graded last year's transfers. Given the production we saw (we wouldn't have been bowling without them), my guess is that I under-graded them. But let's find out together.
If you're new to the Tom Cruise system, it's simple. The star system is dumb. Especially since they basically stopped handing out two-star ratings. It continues to blow my mind that there's a rating system for something - for anything - that rates things a 5, a 4, or a 3. There are 2,700 Division I football recruits every year and they're either given a 5, a 4, or a 3. It's making me angry again just typing this out right now.
(Yes, I understand the "why". No one will subscribe to a rating system that gives their recruit 2-stars. If they rated players honestly - say, from 1 to 10 - then Rivals and 247 lose thousands of LSU subscribers when they give their project recruit a very honest 4-out-of-10 rating. To keep the people happy, everyone has to get at least a 3-out-of-5.)
(And yes, I understand that I'm making the move to doing this full time and I could double my subscribers by telling you that every recruit is a diamond in the rough and worthy of 4 Cruises. I get a lot of "you're an idiot" when I hand out 1.5 Cruises, and I'm realizing that this will continue to lose me money, but I hate the "3, 4, or 5" system so very much that I'm OK with that.)
SO, the system is a 1-10 rating except I cut it in half. People are used to "5-star" being the best of the best, so 5 Cruises is the best of the best and then we drop down all the way to 0.5 Cruises. I've been rating every recruit since 2014, and I believe I've only ever given out one 5-Cruise rating for basketball (Ayo) and two for football (Marquez Beason and Isaiah Williams).
What was I talking about? Oh right - the transfers from last year. Here's the Cruise ratings I gave them:
Milo Eifler - 3.5 Cruises
Brandon Peters - 3 Cruises
Richie Petitbon - 3 Cruises
Wole Betiku - 3 Cruises
Trevon Sidney - 3.5 Cruises
Josh Imatorbhebhe - 2.5 Cruises
LOLOLOLOL. "All the scouting services just give players 3 stars" he says. "I developed a system that ranks players from 5 to 0.5 and can really show separation", he declares. And then he hands out between 2.5 and 3.5 Cruises to the five transfers.
Well, I stand by it, I guess. Flip Sidney and Bhebhe's rankings (although don't sleep on Sidney - he had 16 catches in 4.5 games before his injury) and I think I feel pretty good about all the ratings. I made the same point when I wrote nearly all of them: sure, they flamed out from their 4-star and 5-star status at other schools, but that's still much better than us bringing in a no-star project we discovered at some juco somewhere. If I were to re-rank them after seeing them on the field, I'd go with this:
Josh Imatorbhebhe - 4.5 Cruises
Brandon Peters - 3.5 Cruises
Wole Betiku - 3.5 Cruises
Milo Eifler - 3.5 Cruises
Richie Petitbon - 2.5 Cruises
Trevon Sidney - 2.5 Cruises (heavily influenced by him missing October, November, and December)
I've done it again. I'm this deep into a post and I haven't even mentioned Christian Bell. Maybe we should talk about him?
Started at Alabama, transferred to Wisconsin, now 5th-year transferring to Illinois after getting passed up on the depth chart at Wisconsin (passed up by former Illini target Izayah Green-May from Bolingbrook). He was an "outside linebacker" in Wisconsin's scheme, which means he's a Weakside Defensive End in Lovie's scheme. A guy who rushes from the edge, mostly.
The plan for next year was three main defensive ends - Betiku, Gay, and Carney - while sprinkling in some of the redshirt freshmen (Randolph, Coleman) and true freshmen (Davis, Newton). Betiku opted to declare for the draft, so it was down to two upperclassmen (Gay and Carney) and then the kids. This move makes it three upperclassmen and then the kids.
As I tweeted yesterday, I think Bell fits in here on the depth chart:
Basically, I think Gay will start and then Bell will compete with Marc Mondesir and Seth Coleman for backup minutes. If he's a thing (like, a real thing) then Gay could possibly move over to Strongside Defensive End while Mondesir and Coleman push for more snaps. Basically, this gives new defensive ends coach Jimmy Lindsey some flexibility as he figures out what to do with the second-year guys and the first-year guys.
I don't think we can expect Betiku-like impact from Bell, though. He was rated lower as a recruit and really didn't see the field for Wisconsin. This is more on the Petitbon side of things - completely buried on the depth chart (like, couldn't even get second-string snaps) and looking for a place where he might get on the field. That's helpful for us, especially with Betiku leaving, but it's not a Betiku-like replacement, I don't think.
So we have to keep the Tom Cruises on the lower end. I just don't see this one on the same level as last year's transfers. So...
Christian Bell - Two Tom Cruises