Looks Like University Of Illinois - Chinedu Odeogu

May 20, 2020

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I'll be honest - I'm not really sure if I need to write this post? Because my current scholarship list shows 85 players, and Odeogu would be #86, that either means someone else is leaving or Odeogu is a walkon. I don't write LLUOI posts for walkons, so I'm not really sure how to go about this. Also, I probably really want Odeogu to be a walkon because if he's not, I really don't want to know the name of the player who is no longer with the program.

Regardless, when writing yesterday's post, I saw that Odeogu is listed in 247's database as a transfer to Illinois, and even though some walkons show up in that database (Matt Judd, a walkon wide receiver at Illinois who is transferring to Eastern Illinois, shows up in the database), I supposed I should write an abbreviated LLUOI.

Odeogu is from Inverness, Illinois, which is apparently a suburb of Chicago stuck between Barrington and Palatine. My only knowledge of the area is that when I played in the state high school tennis tournament in 1990 - the doubles match where we lost 6-0, 6-0 to Homewood-Flossmoor - was played at (I believe) Arlington Heights Hersey HS. And then our losers bracket match (lost 7-6, 6-2) was at Palatine Fremd I think. This ends my knowledge of that area.

Odeogu went to prep school in Maryland after high school and then signed with Cal. After four years there (a redshirt year and then three years not really finding the field), he is now transferring to Illinois. Perhaps the best way to put that is that he graduated from Cal, had a year of eligibility remaining, and will use that final year at Illinois. Meaning, this is like four-year players who leave Illinois after four years because that fifth year is never guaranteed (your scholarship only covers four years, and the fifth has to be given to you by the coaches). Kurt Gavin just graduated after four years and won't return (and is, I'm assuming, looking for a place where he can play his final year of eligibility).

Doing research on his four years at Cal I saw references to four positions: linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle, and tight end. So that brings to mind a few Illini comps. One is Rahkeem Smith from 2006 to 2009. He started at linebacker, then moved to fullback, and then ended up at defensive tackle. Another would be DeJazz Woods. Was really skinny when he arrived so he was tried as an edge rusher - kind of a situational outside linebacker. Then he was tried at both defensive tackle and defensive end before settling at defensive end his fifth season. Or, now that I'm typing this out, maybe the best comp is walkon Brandon Roberts. He bounced back and forth between defensive end, defensive tackle, and blocking tight end.

Maybe I should take a paragraph or two and explain how that works (or, at least, how I've always observed it to work). Brandon Roberts wants to play football. It's a very, very tall task for a walkon to ever find their way into the rotation. Every year the staff brings in 3-4 more guys on the defensive line, and they all immediately go in front of the walkons to get as many practice reps as possible. So each year for a walkon feels like you're making progress and then right back down behind new scholarship guys.

The lower-end scholarship guys follow a similar path. DeJazz Woods is passed by a bunch of DE recruits so he moves to DT. Then he's behind a bunch of DT's so he moves back to DE. Sometimes, at that point, you're just a scout team guy and you realize that you're no longer being tried as a defensive end for the rotation on Saturday - your role is to be Purdue's defensive end in practice. Sometimes you move to another position because you ask the coaches to move (see Justice Williams last year), sometimes you move because the coaches need some depth. Regardless - walkon or scholarship guy, moved for depth or moved for future potential - it's a rough road once you're down there getting passed over.

And his Cal career appears to be that. Linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle, and tight end, yet he never really logged many snaps. Three seasons, 20 tackles, moved to tight end but didn't register any statistics, and now he's transferring to Illinois for one season.

Let's see... anything else? The pronunciation guide on Cal's website says that his name is pronounced chin-uh-DO OOH-dog-ooh. But I'm not sure I can add much more here so I should just get to the Cruises.

This might come off as mean, but I think this is going to be my first-ever half-Cruise recruit. There's no tape to evaluate because he didn't really play. He tried four positions at Cal and never really made the rotation. He wasn't a very highly ranked recruit coming out of high school. There's a chance this is a walkon who wants to play one more year of college ball while getting a grad degree. He'll only contribute for one season so it's not like this is some "bulk him up in the weight room and see what we have in a few years" recruit. He was working out at tight end at Cal in March when their spring ball started (pre-Covid) and now he's going to bulk up and play defensive tackle at Illinois in September.

So this is the "prove me wrong, kid" of all provemewrongkids. I just can't go anywhere but 0.5 Cruises.

Chinedu Udeogu - one-half of a Tom Cruise.


larue on May 20, 2020 @ 02:32 PM

He's not a walkon.

Robert on May 20, 2020 @ 03:43 PM

Then someone is leaving (or a freshman is not getting admitted). And I really hope it's not one of the defensive tackles.

Jacob on May 20, 2020 @ 04:14 PM

There is a rumor of a couple players going on Medical Scholarships.

MinnIllini on May 20, 2020 @ 04:49 PM

Players leave every year. They will leave this year for sure. Or you can pull a scholarship from a walk on. Other programs do it. We should embrace it.

Robert on May 21, 2020 @ 09:08 AM

Yes, players leave every year, but it's May 21st. Players are all mostly gone by now. The "fiscal year" of sorts starts in the beginning of June when the players return to campus and the freshmen arrive. That's when teams have to be at 85. So all of the sorting out of "players leave every year" happens mostly between December and May.

You mentioned walkons and I guess that's a possibility. Sometimes when a walkon gets a scholarship for their fourth (senior) season, like Bobby Walker in 2018, they then don't get that scholarship renewed for grad school (fifth, redshirt senior season). Walker went back to walkon last season for his final year.

MinnIllini on May 20, 2020 @ 03:34 PM

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a 5th year grad transfer walk on. But if so that’s great. As for being one player over the scholarship limit...other programs routinely go several to many scholarships over and then encourage players to leave. “Look, you aren’t going to play this year. Maybe transferring is best”. I’m not worried about being one player over. I wish we did a lot more of this than we do. Was certainly hoping for more than 0.5 TCs. Yikes.

bradidas on May 21, 2020 @ 09:15 AM

Is there a chance he'd have 2 years at Illinois by taking a medical redshirt for the 2019 season? Cal website says he played in two games and then was injured, but that he returned to practice at TE at that point, without getting game action. I'm not sure if practicing at a new position but not playing games would cost him the medical redshirt option. Either way, I would guess that somebody on staff saw something in his 2017 and 2018 film for us to give him a scholarship.

Robert on May 21, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

A medical redshirt (meaning a sixth year of eligibility) requires two years missed due to injury. His first missed year was simply a regular redshirt in 2016, so he's not eligible for a sixth year.

Also, just for clarification, the medical redshirt isn't really a thing anymore. It used to be if you were injured in the first 30% of the season and missed the rest of the season (and you hadn't ever used a redshirt) you could apply for one. With the new rule in 2018 (play four games or less and you can redshirt), the medical redshirt is no more. For all players, injured or not, four games or less means a redshirt.

So the only place where the NCAA tracks injuries is now applications for sixth-year waivers. A player would need to prove that they missed two full seasons due to injury and then they can apply for a possible sixth season.

IBFan on May 21, 2020 @ 10:26 AM

.5 Now that’s rough. Is he missing a leg or something?

Robert on May 21, 2020 @ 12:10 PM

I just figured that if I'm ever going to give out a 0.5 rating, it would be here. Hasn't played in four years at Cal despite being moved to three different positions, wasn't a highly regarded recruit in high school, apparently lost weight this spring to attempt to play tight end at Cal in 2020 and will now try to bulk up and play defensive tackle, is rehabbing from an injury last fall.... if Tom Cruises are to reflect the chances that the player will have a big impact on Illini football, I'm not sure there's been a player in the last six years who has a lower percentage chance.

ClassOfDeeDeronJames on May 21, 2020 @ 12:25 PM

Hi Robert. I was looking at old posts in the Forum and noticed that once you get to page 2 (starting with Ayo to the NBA) all of the URLs are broken. Apologies if this isn't the best place to raise this issue or if you prefer the Deuce.

Robert on May 21, 2020 @ 01:44 PM

It's on the list. Brumby tried to fix it once and I think it screwed up the photos attached to posts. So.. a fix should be coming soon. Probably when we launch IlliniBoard 2.0 (which was going to happen March 15th but was put on hold for Covid).

ClassOfDeeDeronJames on May 22, 2020 @ 08:31 AM

No worries. Thanks Robert.

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