Follow The Depth Charts


Robert
Aug 26, 2020
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It will be a week from now and I'll probably be writing things like "sorry to keep harping on this but I just thought of another thing - Lovie said that Cal transfer Chinedu Udeogu might pursue a sixth season since he missed two years at Cal. So he could play the 2020 season in the spring of 2021, then play in the fall of 2021 for his 'fifth' year, then return in 2022 for a sixth season? So this fifth-year transfer could play three seasons?"

I could honestly write five more posts just on this subject (I won't - I'll spare you - but I could). My brain keeps spinning through all of the scenarios like "no coach is getting fired after a half-season in the spring so it's now two 'seasons' across 12 months to evaluate what Lovie has built". Which would then be a three-part series on how the college football coaching carousel might barely exist until 2022. The "let's just pay all of the assistants $700,000" money train has been stuck at the station for six months and nobody knows what it will look like when it returns.

I figured a trip through the next three depth charts would help me center my thoughts. If it's possible that Sydney Brown is still our starting safety in 2022 (what? how?), then I need some depth charts to sort it all out. There will obviously be some player departures after this spring "season", so I'm going to make some assumptions (listed below). Please try not to concentrate on the assumptions I chose. My intention here is not to say that this turns into "why do you think Player A would leave for the draft but Player B would come back for a second senior season?". I'm just trying to play this out as "some players leave after the spring, others come back for the fall, and here's how the rosters might slowly turn over".

The assumptions:

  • I'll assume an 8-game Big Ten season in the spring, completed by early March, and then a full fall season. As mentioned in the previous post, the 2020/21 season, whatever it looks like (SEC playing in the fall, Big Ten playing in the spring), won't count towards anyone's eligibility.
  • The reason I think the Big Ten season would be early rather than late - complete it well before the NFL draft which begins on April 29th.
  • I'll assume that four Illini seniors and one redshirt junior take a shot at the draft after the season: Nate Hobbs, Alex Palczewski, Josh Imatorbhebhe, Milo Eifler, and Kendrick Green.
  • It's rare that punters or kickers are drafted, but Blake Hayes might be the top punter in the country and James McCourt will have his master's degree this spring, so I could see both choosing this to be their final season. Remember, Mel Kiper listed both in the top five of his kickers & punters for the 2021 draft. (Of course, if the Ireland game still happens, I could see McCourt wanting to return just to be part of that game because he lived there until he was 11.)
  • For now, I'm assuming all other players return for 2021 and 2022. We know that won't be the case. They have to be at 85 in 2022 and they'll have a new class coming in so there will likely be many players given the "you've had your four years and you have your degree - thanks for your service" (even players with two more years of eligibility). But I'm not going to speculate on which players those might be just yet. Long way to go.

OK, three 3-deeps. Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022.

Spring 2021 Season

OFFENSE
QB | Peters (SR) | Williams (rs-FR) | Robinson (SO)
RB | Epstein (rs-JR) | C. Brown (rs-SO) | Norwood (SO)
TE1 | Ford (rs-SO) | D. Imatorbhebhe (SR) | Reiman (FR-walkon)
TE2 | Barker (JR) | Moore (rs-FR) | McEachern (JR-walkon)
LT | Lowe (SR) | Slaughter (rs-SO) | Griffin (FR)
LG | K. Green (JR) | Kirts (rs-FR) | Tyler (FR)
C | Kramer (SR) | Plohr (rs-FR) | Engel (SO-walkon)
RG | Jeresaty (SR) | V. Brown (rs-SO) | Pihlstrom (JR-walkon)
RT | Palczewski (SR) | Pearl (rs-SO) | Sparks (FR)
WR1 | Navarro (JR) | Cumby (rs-FR) | Sandy (rs-SO)
WR2 | Sidney (SR) | Hightower (JR) | Dan (SR)
WR3 | J. Imatorbhebhe (SR) | Washington (SO) | Campbell (SO)
DEFENSE
WDE | Gay (SR) | Mondesir (SR) | Coleman (rs-FR)
DT | Woods (JR) | Pate (JR) | Udeogu (SR)
DT | Perry (SR) | Avery (JR) | Shipton (JR)
SDE | Carney (SR) | Randolph (rs-FR) | Riggins (FR)
WLB | Eifler (SR) | Cooper (rs-FR) | Meed (rs-FR walkon)
MLB | Hansen (SR) | T. Barnes (SO) | Coghlin (JR-walkon)
SLB | Tolson (JR) | DeGroot (SR) | Ware (JR)
CB | Hobbs (SR) | Beason (rs-FR) | Leitzsey (SR-walkon)
SS | S. Brown (JR) | Martin (JR) | Marchese (SR-walkon)
FS | D. Smith (JR) | Joseph (JR) | K. Smith (SR)
CB | Adams (SR) | Witherspoon (SO) | N. Walker (SR)
SPECIALISTS
Kicker | McCourt (SR) | Griffin (rs-SO)
Punter | Hayes (SR) | Robertson (FR)
Longsnapper | Tabel (SR) | Hall (rs-FR)
Holder | Hayes (SR)
Punt Return | Sidney (SR) | Cumby (rs-FR)
KO Return | Norwood/Love | Sandy/Sims

One quick note from above: in one of the press conferences Lovie held after the five practices in early August he mentioned Milo Eifler as a Will (weakside) linebacker and Khalan Tolson as a Sam (strongside) linebacker. So I flipped them to those spots on my depth chart. Seems weird to me but whatever.

OK, so now we flip from spring season to fall season. Everyone can return at the same level of eligibility like the spring season never happened. Another freshman class arrives so there's around 100 scholarship players. And the sit-out transfers are now eligible. You'll see a lot of the walkons fall off the list here but they might stay ahead of the newcomers on the depth chart. I'm mostly trying to show the mix of players with recruits from six different classes all on the same team. Newcomers that fall (transfers and freshmen) are in italics.

And again, the seven players I have leaving after the spring 2021 season (there will likely be more than 7): Nate Hobbs, Alex Palczewski, Josh Imatorbhebhe, Milo Eifler, Kendrick Green, Blake Hayes, and James McCourt. All could possibly return. I'm just showing what this might look like with this new rule.

Fall 2021 Season

OFFENSE
QB | Peters (SR) | Williams (rs-FR) | Robinson (SO)
RB | Epstein (rs-JR) | C. Brown (rs-SO) | Norwood (SO)
TE1 | Ford (rs-SO) | D. Imatorbhebhe (SR) | Brenson (FR)
TE2 | Barker (JR) | Moore (rs-FR) | McEachern (JR-walkon)
LT | Lowe (SR) | Jones (rs-SO) | Griffin (FR)
LG | Jeresaty (SR) | Kirts (rs-FR) | Gesky (FR)
C | Kramer (SR) | Plohr (rs-FR) | Kreutz (FR)
RG | V. Brown (rs-SO) | Tyler (FR) | Barlev (FR)
RT | Slaughter (rs-SO) | Pearl (rs-SO) | Wisecarver (FR)
WR1 | Navarro (JR) | Cumby (rs-FR) | Sandy (rs-SO)
WR2 | Sidney (SR) | Hightower (JR) | Dan (SR)
WR3 | C. Washington (SO) | Campbell (JR) | Thompson (SO)
DEFENSE
WDE | Gay (SR) | Mondesir (SR) | Coleman (rs-FR)
DT | Woods (JR) | Pate (JR) | Udeogu (SR)
DT | Perry (SR) | Avery (JR) | Shipton (JR)
SDE | Carney (SR) | Randolph (rs-FR) | Riggins (FR)
WLB | Cooper (rs-FR) | Moffitt (FR) | Meed (rs-FR walkon)
MLB | Hansen (SR) | T. Barnes (SO) | Rosiek (FR)
SLB | Tolson (JR) | DeGroot (SR) | Ware (JR)
CB | Beason (rs-FR) | Walker (SR) | Strain (FR)
SS | S. Brown (JR) | Martin (JR) | Snyder (FR)
FS | D. Smith (JR) | Joseph (JR) | J. Washington (FR)
CB | Adams (SR) | Witherspoon (SO) | Edwards (FR)
SPECIALISTS
Kicker | Griffin (rs-SO)
Punter | Robertson (FR)
Longsnapper | Tabel (SR) | Hall (rs-FR)
Holder | Robertson? (FR)
Punt Return | Sidney (SR) | Cumby (rs-FR)
KO Return | Norwood/Love | Sandy/Sims

ANOTHER thing I just thought of: Since the 2020 recruiting class has a "lost" year here, they'll show up to camp next spring as true freshmen again. As will a second recruiting class (2021), also true freshmen. Some team is gonna have something like 41 seniors during the 2024 season since these two classes have now been combined as one.

OK, so now the seniors finally graduate. The "cliff" arrives. Biggest turnover in a while. It was going to happen in 2021, but now it will happen in 2022. What does that depth chart look like?

I should note - reading this might feel a little weird. You might have some "wait, Keith Randolph will still only be a sophomore in 2022 with that season plus two more after that?" moments. But here it is. A depth chart where players getting ready to graduate with their undergrad degrees are fourth-year sophomores. We don't know any names for the 2022 recruiting class yet, so this is just made up of players currently on the roster.

And no - I'm not picking the starting quarterback.

Fall 2022 Season

OFFENSE
QB | Williams (rs-SO) ~OR~ Spann (rs-FR) ~OR~ Robinson (JR) ~OR~ Taylor (JR)
RB | Epstein (SR) | C. Brown (JR) | Norwood (JR)
TE1 | Ford (JR) | Brenson (rs-FR)
TE2 | Barker (SR) | Moore (rs-SO)
LT | Slaughter (JR) | Griffin (rs-FR) | Pihlstrom (SR-walkon)
LG | Jones (JR) | Kirts (rs-SO) | Gesky (rs-FR)
C | Kreutz (rs-FR) | Plohr (rs-SO) | Engel (JR-walkon)
RG | V. Brown (JR) | Tyler (rs-FR) | Barlev (rs-FR)
RT | Pearl (JR) | Wisecarver (rs-FR) | Sparks (rs-FR)
WR1 | Navarro (SR) | Cumby (SO) | Frenchie (rs-FR)
WR2 | Hightower (SR) | Sandy (JR) | Thompson (JR)
WR3 | C. Washington (JR) | Campbell (JR) | Bryant (rs-FR)
DEFENSE
WDE | Coleman (SO) | Holmes (JR) | Davis (rs-FR)
DT | Woods (SR) | Pate (SR) | Newton (rs-FR)
DT | Avery (SR) | Okpala (SO) | Shipton (SR)
SDE | Randolph (SO) | Riggins (rs-FR) | McConnell (FR)
WLB | Cooper (SO) | Moffitt (rs-FR) | Meed (rs-SO walkon)
MLB | T. Barnes (JR) | Rosiek (rs-FR) | Darkangelo (JR-walkon)
SLB | Tolson (SR) | Ware (SR) | Villanueva (rs-FR)
CB | Beason (SO) | Strain (rs-FR) | P. Green (rs-FR)
SS | S. Brown (SR) | Martin (SR) | Snyder (rs-FR)
FS | D. Smith (SR) | Joseph (SR) | J. Washington (rs-FR)
CB | Witherspoon (JR) | Edwards (rs-FR) | Nicholson (rs-FR)
SPECIALISTS
Kicker | Griffin (JR)
Punter | Robertson (SO)
Longsnapper | Hall (SO)
Holder | Robertson? (SO)
Punt Return | Cumby (rs-SO)
KO Return | Norwood/Love | Sandy/Sims

I thought about putting "year in the program" there along with year in school because the young players aren't really that young (Shammond Cooper is listed as a redshirt sophomore on this list but really he'll be a 4th-year player and a senior when he goes to class). But that would probably make it more confusing. So just understand that the blanket waiver applies to everyone. Jamal Woods will still be here even though his first football game was six seasons prior.

And yes, I think this has helped me. I can picture that 2022 team, and having Sydney Brown and Calvin Avery still there helps the defense (same with Donny Navarro and Daniel Barker on offense). It's the 2021 roster we were worried about, pushed forward to 2022, with everyone getting one more year of experience before moving into starting roles.

I guess I could have saved us all a lot of time and just written that paragraph. I'll learn from that next time.

(I won't.)

Comments

IBFan on August 25, 2020 @ 09:03 PM

Very confusing. Not sure how they will make all the accommodations for subsequent years. Budgets are going to be strained, maybe some schools just stay at the basic 85? Or does that matter that much to a school’s budget? Lockers, trainers, pads, jerseys, food, travel...yeesh...from 85 to 110? The transfer portal is going to be working overtime.

Nashvegas Illini on August 26, 2020 @ 08:47 AM

This article and the one before it helps me. This will make a lot of teams better. To your point from the last article, it probably doesn't do much for Ohio St or Alabama. But Ole Miss should be really good in 2022. Illini have a chance to be good in 2022 if we figure out the QB position.

Overall I think this makes for a more competitive 2021 and 2022 across college football with more upsets in those years and a combined cliff of 2023 for most programs unless teams find a way to balance their classes between now and then.

I just wonder how coaches will recruit now. Will they offer a bunch of kids this year and next year just to cut a lot of kids before 2023?

iluvrt on August 26, 2020 @ 06:19 PM

I actually like that 2022 team. Figuring some transfers and upgrades in recruiting as a result of a good 2010-2021 is promising. Of course, buyer beware blah blah

Chukwuwumba on August 31, 2020 @ 03:50 PM

Recruiting story going to be interesting to monitor. This news came out during the dead period???? Teams will maybe put together a plan...recruit more this year? Stop this year lower school lies for future years? I’m sure some teams won’t care and just plan to not renew scholarships to bottom 20 or so. I wonder if the big ten will still only guarantee scholarships for 4 years?

Sweetchuck13 on September 1, 2020 @ 02:17 PM

Would love just a rambling podcast with the brain trust at some point as you digest all of this craziness....especially if the B1G switches once again and goes back to trying to play this fall...

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