The 90 Illini #80: Tre'Von Riggins
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This is a really good alignment for The 90 Illini and other posts on the site. I wrote that "Not Great, Bob" post talking about how the 2021 class isn't bringing in the level of player I expected after making a bowl game. And I've pointed to the final recruits of the 2020 class as my example. After adding Tre'Von Riggins, Deuce Spann, Cooper Davis, and Johnny Newton in December, I thought we had taken a big step forward in recruiting. That six wins had opened some closed doors.
But that's not how the 2021 class has gone so far. There's 10 players in the class, and Riggins, Spann, Davis, and Newton would all be top-5 if they were 2021 recruits. I was expecting a full class of recruits like those four, and it just hasn't happened. And that's why things aren't great, Bob.
Maybe I should have just condensed that entire post down into offer lists. It's pretty easy to see my point when you look at it like that. Just list the best five offers:
Riggins: Florida, Miami, Tennessee, Arizona State, Pitt
Newton: Florida State, Florida, Miami, Virginia Tech, Iowa
Davis: Tennessee, Missouri, Louisville, West Virginia, Minnesota
Spann: Georgia, Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Ole Miss
And the offer lists for the three commits in the 2021 class I'm writing about this week (the ones that brought me to that "you know, I need to write about my frustrations before I can write these LLUOI posts" place):
Dylan Rosiek: Air Force, Army, Buffalo, Harvard, Yale
Theodore Lockley: Boston College, Kansas, Rutgers, Appalachian State, UConn
Joriell Washington: Oregon, Iowa State, Boston College, USF, Southern Miss
I thought we were going to get A, and we're getting mostly B. It's really that simple.
(And it's also one of the reasons I still think the way the 2020 class is discussed is ridiculously unfair - see my signing day rant about it last December. There weren't many scholarships available, so it was always going to be a tiny class, and tiny doesn't mean "bad" as long as you can bring in legitimate players. Love, Frenchie, Riggins, Newton, Davis, and Spann (plus Thompson at the time I wrote that) were all legitimate players. 11 high school players and more than half were real deal recruits - and that's leaving off guys I think have serious potential like Tyler and McCoy. It still bothers me how our fanbase discusses that class.)
OK, this is supposed to be a 90i post and off I go on some rant. Back to the task at hand.
80. Tre'Von Riggins
Uniform number: not known yet
Year in school: True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Height: 6'-4" -- Weight: 280 lbs.
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida
High School: Lakewood High School
Five best offers: Florida, Miami (FL), Tennessee, Arizona State, Pittsburgh
Tom Cruise rating: 3 Cruises
Riggins was one of the clearest flips of all time. He'd been committed to Miami since January yet his Twitter was almost all Illinois stuff all fall. He still visited Miami on October 5th but then followed that up with a visit to Illinois for the Wisconsin game. After that - again, going by what he was tweeting - he seemed to have already flipped. He officially decommitted from Miami on November 23rd and then committed to Illinois in December.
And that was big, position-wise. The biggest depth concern after the seniors graduated: defensive line. They may have only had a few scholarships to give, but at least four of them had to go to defensive line. Adding Riggins, Newton, and Davis in December (plus Quinton McCoy, plus juco Anthony Shipton) provided immediate depth for the future.
I've said this a lot for the freshmen on this list but it's so strange how my brain has flipped from "I mean, everyone is going to play" to "almost everyone will redshirt". In 2017, all but three of the 24 freshmen played. And in 2018, when writing this series and getting to the "outlook" portion for each player, I just assumed everyone would play. "Kerby Joseph, yeah, he'll play. Delano Ware? Yes, he'll play as a true freshman. Sydney Brown? Yes. Khalan Tolson? Yep. Daniel Barker? Gonna have to."
Then, last year, all but four guys redshirted. Super-talented recruits like Shammond Cooper and Isaiah Williams? Redshirted. I used to go through this list with the mentality of "the college-ready players will play and the projects will redshirt" - and that goes back to when I wrote this series for Beckman and Zook rosters - but now I've swung from "absolutely everyone will play" to "absolutely everyone will redshirt" across three seasons.
Which usually means I've swung too far in the other direction. Bobby Roundtree, Jamal Woods, and Isaiah Gay all played on Lovie's defensive line as true freshmen (starting with their very first game) - why would I not expect Riggins or Newton or Davis to maybe do the same? We really need depth on the defensive line - Betiku, Milan, Oliver, and Shogbonyo, all gone - so I really should be anticipating some of these freshmen playing this year. I can already tell you that the strength of the 2023 team is the defensive line (Randolph, Coleman, Okpala, Davis, Newton, Riggins, McCoy), so maybe we start seeing that line sooner rather than later?
OK, yes, I probably have Tre'Von Riggins way too low on this list.