The 90 Illini #70: Kenyon Sims
This whole "non-conference schedule canceled" thing sucks, but it's perfect for one thing: this countdown to the season which is woefully behind (as usual). Now, if the first game is September 19th or whatever, I have plenty of time to count all the way down to player #1.
To be honest, over the last few weeks, I've wondered if I should be doing this countdown at all. Why count down to something if it might get canceled? It's like the world's saddest advent calendar. "22nd, 23rd, 24th... sorry kids, Christmas is canceled".
Now there's at least some hope of something. I can hang onto it until that gets canceled. It's like my August bowl hopes. I always cling to the remote possibility right up until it officially won't happen.
So this announcement buoys me a bit. I can keep counting down, even if it's false hope. To 2020! ~clink~
70. Kenyon Sims
Uniform number: 22
Year in school: Redshirt Sophomore (3 years to play 3)
Height: 5'-11" -- Weight: 200 lbs.
Hometown: San Diego, California
High School: Lincoln HS
Five best offers: Utah, Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State, San Diego State
Tom Cruise rating: 2.5 Cruises
2019 statistics: Played in 5 games as a redshirt freshman - 14 carries for 52 yards. They weren't all mop-up yards, either. With Reggie Corbin and Mike Epstein getting hurt against Akron and Dre Brown still nursing a slight injury (he played but appeared to be a bit banged-up), the UConn game was mostly Ra'Von Bonner, Jakari Norwood, and Sims. He had 2 catches for 7 yards and 1 carry for 13 yards.
I think of Sims and Matt Robinson as the "I could use these guys for my offense" recruits after Rod Smith got the offensive coordinator job. Rod Smith was hired on January 19, 2018, so he had about three weeks to find a few recruits before signing day in early February. He landed on Robinson at QB and Sims at RB.
Sims had committed to Utah the summer before but had decommitted that December. As I recall he visited Arizona, Oregon State, and Illinois and picked Illinois.
Path to 2020
His first season in 2018 he redshirted (as did running back classmate Jakari Norwood). The running back room was full (Corbin, Brown, Epstein, Bonner), so Sims wasn't needed at all. 2019 was the same with all of those tailbacks returning (except for Epstein who injured his knee in the first game), so not much has been expected from Sims just yet. The top four spots on the depth chart have pretty much been locked down for both of his seasons here.
Now is when things start to open up. Both Corbin and Brown graduated, so take everyone and move them up two rungs on the ladder. If Epstein is healthy, he's RB1, but then it's wide open behind him. The contenders:
Ra'Von Bonner (SR)
Mike Epstein (rJR)
Jakari Norwood (rSO)
Kenyon Sims (rSO)
Chase Brown (rSO)
Nick Fedanzo (rFR)
Reggie Love (FR)
It's likely that four guys will get carries. Epstein-Bonner-Norwood-Sims? Bonner-Brown-Norwood-Love? Hard to say at this point. Except to say that this is a very big season for Norwood and Sims. Carries are now available, and there are two new guys in the mix (transfer Chase Brown and freshman Reggie Love), so the race for 2022 starting tailback begins now.