The 90 Illini #87: Caleb Griffin
I'm absolutely cheating here. I'm taking "certain to be the backup" players and burying them down here in the 80's. Last year I had Caleb Griffin at #37. Now he's 87th? What? Well, James McCourt win the placekicking job, and now James McCourt returns for his senior season, and he's kind of a campus legend now, so Griffin will need to wait one more year to win the kicking job. That means I can cheat and hide him down here at #87. And then next year he'll jump to something like 26th as our starting kicker.
87. Caleb Griffin
Uniform number: 11
Year in school: Redshirt sophomore (3 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-3" -- Weight: 210 lbs.
Hometown: Danville, Illinois
High School: Danville High School
Best offers: Iowa, Ball State, Bowling Green
Tom Cruise rating: I didn't rate him because I thought he was a walkon but it turned out he was a scholarship recruit
2019 statistics: Hit a really nice 53-yard field goal in the spring game but James McCourt won the kicking job in fall camp and then he, well, you know..
Griffin, you might remember, committed to Illinois by wearing orange and blue socks during one of his high school basketball games. Kohl's Kicking actually ranks high school kickers, and they had Griffin as the #12 kicker in the 2018 class. A kicker ranked on that website who resides in Danville - you can't let that kid go to Iowa. We already let Tucker McCann escape Illinois and go to Mizzou and we let Austin Seibert escape Illinois and go to Oklahoma, so Griffin needed to stay home.
Path to 2020
His first season was a redshirt lock. Chase McLaughlin still had one more year, so there'd be no reason at all to burn Griffin's redshirt. Especially since James McCourt was a redshirt sophomore that season. Man, we had to be the only school in the country with three kickers on scholarship.
At that time, with three kickers, it seemed pretty certain how it would shake out. McLaughlin was the kicker in 2016 and 2017 and would be the kicker in 2018. McCourt arrived in 2016 and was waiting his turn behind McLaughlin, so after three years of waiting he'd be the kicker in 2019 and 2020. And then, after three years of waiting, Caleb Griffin will be the kicker in 2021 and 2022.
Well, I have him at #87 so I'm assuming that McCourt still holds onto the job. Of course, I said that about Matt Eller when he made the kick to beat Iowa in 2008 and he quickly went into a funk and lost his starting spot. So I guess it's possible that McCourt could go off the rails and Griffin would take the job.
But the most likely scenario was probably known three years ago. Three years of McLaughlin, then two years of McCourt, then two years of Griffin. One more year of waiting for Caleb.