The 90 Illini #82: Ezekiel Holmes
See, this is what I was talking about. A redshirt sophomore at #82? Yes, a redshirt sophomore at #82. There are only six freshmen left - three defensive linemen and three offensive skill players - and with depth issues on the defensive line and in the offensive backfield, there's a chance that those players play, meaning I can't hide any "certain redshirt" players down here anymore. In case I didn't emphasize "this was a very difficult list to make" enough yesterday, this was a very difficult list to make.
The obvious question here: if there are depth issues on the defensive line, why am I putting a redshirt sophomore defensive end at #82? The answer: injury issues.
82. Ezekiel Holmes
Uniform number: 33
Year in school: Redshirt Sophomore (3 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-3" -- Weight: 230 lbs.
Hometown: Wichita Falls, Texas
High School: Hirschi High School
Best offers: Washington State, Air Force, Kansas
Tom Cruise rating: 3 Cruises
2019 statistics: Played in 1 game (Akron).
If Lovie talked about injuries - like, at all - we'd have some idea what's going on with Ezekiel Holmes. I've observed him sitting out enough practices to know that he's been dealing with some type of recurring injury. But that's never discussed, so all I can do is speculate. I want to say that I heard it was some kind of hip injury, but that's just "heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another that his hip is worn down".
Whatever the case, I've seen him not practicing more than I've seen him practice in the last two years. Whenever a player is on the sideline more than they're on the field - fall camp and spring ball over multiple seasons - I assume some kind of chronic injury and not just "twisted his ankle". If there were injury reports - like, at all - I'd be able to say "he's dealing with X" here, but there's not, so I'm forced to speculate.
He is pretty talented on the piano, though:
We've seen players come back from the injury wilderness before. Dre Brown was completely, 100% written off by the entire fanbase ("that kid will just never be healthy") and then he had two injury-free seasons, the second of which he was the offensive MVP. Justin Hardee was written off that way, and now he's had three injury-free seasons with the New Orleans Saints. Mike Epstein has been written off that way, and he's about to rush for 1,400 yards this season.
So I never completely write off the "man, he's not practicing again this week" guys. BUT, I do put them down lower in The 90 Illini until I see that they can contribute on the field. Ezekiel Holmes stays down here until I see him in a consistent rotation at practice.
I guess I should add - and this is not to be mean, just honest - that he might not have the injury issue anymore and it's possible he's just not in the rotation of players at practice. Sometimes, the walkons push past a scholarship guy and take the practice snaps. We'll find out a lot more this year at camp.
You know, if there's a camp.