The 90 Illini #60: Julian Pearl
Did I know that 247 had Julian Pearl as the #6 player in Illinois in 2018 with a rating of 88 (just short of four-star)? I don't think there's any way I knew that. I remember the weeping and gnashing of teeth when he committed (a no-star skinny basketball player in Danville who we though could grow into an offensive tackle), but I don't remember them bumping him all the way to 6th-best player in the state and nearly a 4-star. THE ILLINOIS BUMP IS REAL.
His composite score was still .8470, so his Rivals and ESPN rating dragged him down, but... I don't remember that. Julian Pearl nearly a 4-star? Huh.
60. Julian Pearl
Uniform number: 54
Year in school: Redshirt Sophomore (3 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-6" -- Weight: 300 lbs.
Hometown: Danville, Illinois
High School: Danville High School
Five best offers: Illinois, Northern Illinois
Tom Cruise rating: 1.5 Cruises
2019 statistics: Played in 3 games, mostly special teams (field goals/extra points) but a few snaps at tackle against Akron and Rutgers.
I had him at 1.5 Cruises because he looked like a big project (well, he was). Probably 6'-6", 240 in high school, looked more natural in his basketball jersey than his football uniform. This was the old "long arms so he has reach for days, big frame - if we add 70 lbs to that frame we might have a football player" recruit.
In fact, he was so skinny as a freshman that he played defensive end. He was maybe 255 then, and it's really hard to even practice at offensive tackle if you're 255. Now, after 24 months in the strength program, he's apparently up to 300 lbs. The freshman 15 and the sophomore 45.
One more year and then we see how the project turned out. He's added the weight - can he now add the technique? As I said for other players like Jordyn Slaughter, it's nearly the exact opposite of Palcho. For Palcho it was "don't care if you're 17 years old at the beginning of your first training camp - you have to get out there and start immediately". For Pearl (and Slaughter), it's "you won't be needed until your fourth season so you're going to go to 24-month body camp, then spend a year learning how to use that weight, and then we'll need you in 2021.
Now, with Jake Cerny not on the roster this season, there's a need for a backup tackle. Either Pearl or Slaughter (or someone else) is going to have to be ready. So maybe I'm off here and Pearl should be higher (because he's going to play). But we know the starting five, and as long as they stay healthy (please stay healthy), one more year until we see what we have in Pearl.