Looks Like University Of Illinois - Prather Hudson

Feb 2, 2021

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OK ~now~ I'm caught up on LLUOI posts. I wasn't sure at first if Hudson was a walkon or a scholarship transfer, and I don't write LLUOI posts for walkons (there would be 20 of them every year and they'd all say "has a 5% chance of cracking the rotation but I'd love to see it happen"). But I did confirm that Hudson was put on scholarship after a few years at Georgia and is transferring to Illinois on scholarship as well.

I feel like this is going to be a short post, though. There's no real research to do. This isn't an insult, but when a kid is a preferred walkon in HS and then plays mostly special teams in college, eventually earning a scholarship for that play, there's just not much data to review.

For, say, Chase Hayden, there's a lot to review. He was a 4-star running back in high school. He was the son of a Tennessee legend but he chose Arkansas instead. The coach who recruited him was fired and so he left for East Carolina. Now he reunites with that coach in Champaign with two years of eligibility and a fair number of "three yards on 3rd & 2" left in the tank.

For Prather Hudson, he worked his way up to a scholarship at Georgia and became a special teams standout. Now he's looking to a lower level of football to maybe grab more than that. In that sense, he's... Mike LaTulip?

Yes, my comp is Mike LaTulip. He was never put on scholarship here, but as a walkon he was a key part of the basketball team and even got in a few games here and there (kind of a Tyler Underwood role). For his final season of eligibility, he transferred to Wright State because he wanted more than the Tyler Underwood role. He played 26 minutes per game, scored 7 ppg, hit 38% of his threes. A nice capper to his college career.

That's what Hudson is going for here, I think. At Georgia, no, he's never going to get into the DB or RB rotation. He earned some snaps at Georgia during blowouts, but I'm guessing that when we talk to him on Thursday, he'll mention that he wanted more than that. So he's going from one of the five most-talented rosters in the Power Five to one of the, uh, least-talented (~winks at Slapdash newsletter subscribers~).

I forget who sent me this comp, but someone comped him to Christian Bobak and I think that's just about perfect. I just searched my Twitter mentions and my texts for who said this to me but I can't find it. Maybe Carmen suggested it on the phone before we recorded the podcast? That has to be it. ANYWAY, Bobak is a great comp here.

I just looked up the PFF stats for both. Christian Bobak is the ultimate comp here. Both guys were high school running backs who played both ways in high school and took a PWO spot at a P5 school. Both have received snaps at RB and S. Both played on special teams all four years. Here's the stats:

Christian Bobak special teams snaps per PFF: 758
Prather Hudson special teams snaps per PFF: 798

Christian Bobak offensive/defensive snaps per PFF: 37
Prather Hudson offensive/defensive snaps per PFF: 66

Well there you go. Whoever it was who sent me "so, Bobak?" gets a gold star. That's exactly what this is. Georgia's version of Bobak is transferring to Illinois.

So let's combine those two thoughts. I first pointed out Christian Bobak at training camp in 2016:

He redshirted that year but I was pretty excited to see him on the opening kickoff as a redshirt freshman:

He's basically been our Aaron Gress Memorial Special Teams Dynamo ever since. 758 ST snaps.

I do this with walkons all the time, so I made a list in 2019 of my "please play this walkon" guys:

(If you want to know who is next on that list, I'll whisper it real quick. Walkon tight end Tip Reiman.)

If Christian Bobak wanted to LaTulip, he could do what, say, Jimmy Marchese did. For his fifth season, Jimmy Machese transferred to Richmond for more snaps. Maxed out his walkon snaps at one level (was even on scholarship for one year), transferred down a level to get more snaps his final year.

That's more or less what Hudson is doing here, I think. Maxed out his walkon (eventual scholarship) snaps at Georgia. Transferring down a level to try to get more snaps. And yes, the drop from Georgia to Illinois is probably the same as the drop from Illinois to Richmond (or Wright State).

How does one evaluate all of that? It's hard to put into Cruises. If Christian Bobak sticks around for a sixth season, Hudson would be battling with... Christian Bobak for backup safety snaps and special teams snaps (although I'm assuming both would be on every coverage team). Those backup safety snaps became available for Bobak in the final two games of the season, especially at Penn State after Derrick Smith was ejected. So if those snaps come open again, those are the two guys likely battling for it.

So I like the idea of one for the grad transfer scholarships going to a special teams dynamo. I'm ready to suppress cheers in the pressbox when he makes a tackle at the 16 on kickoff coverage. I used to give out that Aaron Gress award, and I hate that I haven't for a long time.

But my job in these posts is to hand out Tom Cruises for "future impact to the team". And if I were to compare Hudson's impact to, say, what I think Eddie Smith will provide (I think he'll be a 3-year starter at safety), then I can't go with many Cruises. Love a good special-teamer, but that only gets you 1.5.

Prather Hudson - One and one-half Tom Cruises.


Eagle on February 2, 2021 @ 02:39 PM

If you can occasionally get a Fej, Zach Grant or Donny Navarro out of walk-ons, that's a decent ROI.

Goorblue on February 2, 2021 @ 07:12 PM

This is a fascinating addition. I was hoping you would explore the reason(s) why CBB would use a scholarship on a 1 year special teams player. There seems to be something more granular at play here than just a physical contribution. Perhaps he brings a value to this team that is missing. Something extending beyond just the "physicality" of play.

Groundhogday on February 4, 2021 @ 10:47 PM

If you had to pick one walk on, it would be Fej, right?

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