The 90 Illini #83: Kevin Tyler
This is a strange year for The 90 Illini. I usually breeze through the 80's and 70's just naming all the freshmen who will likely redshirt. Well, with only 11 freshmen coming in (plus two jucos, plus transfers), I'm starting to run out of freshmen on The 90 Illini and I still have three more spots in the 80's. A few of them are going to play, I think, so I have those guys higher. And peeking ahead at the list, I get into the sophomores and juniors starting tomorrow and the next day.
This means nothing to anyone besides me. It's not even anything someone else would notice. I simply compile this list every year, and this year is so much different than the last 10. There are 27 seniors on my list - 25 on scholarship plus two senior walkons - and that's one year after having 11 seniors on The 90 Illini and two years after having eight.
Which means I don't think there's any way Tyler or any of the other freshmen covered so far will get on the field. Some seniors won't get on the field. It's as overcrowded as the roster has been in the last 10 years. (That doesn't necessarily mean it's a talented roster - it's just very full and very old.)
83. Kevin Tyler
Uniform number: not known yet
Year in school: True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Height: 6'-5" -- Weight: 295 lbs.
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
High School: Ritenour High School
Five best offers: Missouri, Minnesota, Purdue, Syracuse, Indiana
Tom Cruise rating: 3 Cruises
Tyler was the best of the three offensive linemen in this class, I think. The offensive linemen who have chosen Bob McClain (2019 and 2020 classes) have all been light on offers (Josh Plohr only had MAC offers, Evan Kirts only had a one other P5 offer from Virginia, Phifer Griffin only had West Virginia, Blaise Sparks only had Pitt and Rutgers). But Tyler has a solid list of offers (those listed above plus others), as does fellow St. Louisian (and 2021 recruit) Brody Wisecarver, so maybe things will improve there. In fact, I could see a scenario where the 2022 offensive line is Tyler + Wisecarver + the three seniors that season (Verdis Brown, Jordyn Slaughter, and Julian Pearl).
I'm getting ahead of myself. That kind of talk is for the "Outlook" section below. What else do we know about Tyler?
Oh, perhaps I should continue the "Plan A/Plan B" discussion from the comments under the Blaise Sparks post here. A commenter noted that it was unfair to list Griffin, Sparks, and Tyler as "Plan B" to the main recruiting targets last year (Marcus Harper, Kevo Wesley, and Jalen St. John), and I conceded that what he suggested is more accurate. Tyler really doesn't belong on the "Plan B" list. The main targets appeared to be Marcus Harper (who was committed to Illinois but flipped to Oregon), Kevo Wesley (Vandy), Jalen St. John (Arkansas), and Tyler (picked Illinois). Interest picked up later in Sparks and Griffin, but only after Harper flipped and Wesley/JSJ verballed elsewhere. So I want to correct that. Tyler: Plan A. Sparks and Griffin: appear to be Plan B.
And remember - this is offensive line recruiting we're talking about. There's no position where more 4-stars bust and more 2-stars become all-conference players. Cornerback, you can tell early who has it and who doesn't. Offensive line? You're predicting what kind of frame they'll have (and how much agility they retain) after three years of working out and eating 5,000 calories per day. We'll get to see a project like that in 2021 when Slaughter, Brown, and Pearl all come out of the three-year incubator and we see what we have.
After that, the most likely scenario is that Tyler, Griffin, and Sparks all enter the incubator while Slaughter, Brown, and Pearl are all exiting. Slaughter-Brown-Pearl, three years in the incubator and then they start in 2021 and 2022. Tyler, Griffin, and Sparks - three years in the incubator and then they all start in 2023 and 2024 after the other three graduate.
There are other offensive linemen on the roster, of course. I'm just speaking in generalities. The way it generally works at the top programs: all linemen redshirt, then they spend their underclassman years on field goal teams and such, and then they get a few years in the starting lineup. Some get there sophomore year, others junior year.
Tyler is the best of these three, I think, so let's look for him to start making some noise in 2022 as a redshirt sophomore.