Catch Up

Apr 19, 2021

You have currently viewed 1 story this month.

IlliniBoard now offers two free stories per month, for more please subscribe.

A lot can happen in mid-April.

My wife's Aunt Barbara passed away, and her funeral was in Idaho yesterday, so I've spent the last few days in Idaho. I wrote a few posts that I could put up on the site while I was out of town and then pretty much ignored my phone the last three days. But when I would check it, the news would hit me like a fire hose. Three football commits. A basketball transfer from Utah. Trent coming back. Kofi declaring.

I'm on the flight back right now - the SLC-to-DIA leg was delayed by 35 minutes because of snow/fog in Denver, so our 1:10 layover is now a 35 minute layover. Odds of making it back for the spring game tonight dropped from 91% this morning to 77% with that delay alone. I'm still holding out hope, but given my travel woes the last few months, I'm fully expecting "sorry sir - we've shut the door on that flight and your only other option is a bus that will get to Champaign in early May".

As I prepare myself for "this is the only chance you'll get before the Nebraska game to see this team scrimmage and snow on April 19th will prevent that from happening", I figured I could write a random post that gets me caught up on everything that's happened. Let's use some plus signs.

+ First, a section on Aunt Barbara.

My wife and I were married at the Grand Canyon. We used the Grand Canyon Railroad as our transportation. We rented out a train car that carried all guests up to the wedding, then we were married on the south rim, and then our reception was in that same train car on the way back down to Williams, Arizona. That limited our wedding attendees to 50 people. Well, 49 because my friend Jason tried to do the "attend a bachelor party in Vegas Friday night and then drive to the wedding at 5:00 am on Saturday, making it to Williams, Arizona just before the train departed", but I awoke that morning to a "dude, still at the bachelor party, not gonna make it" text. There was a 94% chance of getting that text. Heck, I would have sent that text.

So I knew 47 of the 49 people on the train that day. Family, friends, the wedding party - I had met everyone on the list. I had not met my wife's Uncle Bob and Aunt Barbara. They drove down from Idaho for the wedding, and I met them the night before at the rehearsal dinner.

Let me see if I can paint this picture accurately. I am.. the emotional type. I'm a "creative". Heart-on-sleeve or whatever. I like to think that I could change the oil on my car, but let's be honest, I haven't done it since I was, like, 24. I think I can write good, and I give a hell of a wedding speech, but I'm not exactly the "shoe a horse and then bale some hay" type. I don't even know if it's bale or bail.

Uncle Bob and Aunt Barbara were the "shoe a horse and then bale some hay" type. Grew up on a farm in Idaho, knew how to live off the land. There are two things I've always observed about such people: insane work ethic and insane kindness.

Uncle Bob passed away 10 years ago, so Aunt Barbara outlived him by 10 years. She was 88 when she passed away last week. You think you've met honest people before in your life, but you haven't. Not like Aunt Barbara. The people who spoke at her funeral yesterday (including my wife) all agreed on one thing: she lived life without any of the filters that you or I employ.

This does not mean Aunt Barbara was "mean". Not in the slightest. One woman got up and spoke about how Barbara was her salvation after this woman's husband passed away. She would bring her food. She would invite her to Thanksgiving. Barbara attended the funeral, noted that this woman would be lonely after her husband passed away, and chose to fill that void. For years.

But Aunt Barbara had no time for facades. That's maybe not the right way to put it. She... simply shot you straight. I'll give you an example.

One of the last times I saw her, she came into the kitchen once we had a moment alone at a party and led with this:

"Robert, you're heavier than the last time I saw you - time to lose some weight."

This was not mean. She'd pick up the check, she'd send personalized greeting cards, she remembered everything about you, even at age 88. She would cook all day just to deliver food to people in her community like the woman I mentioned above. This was not, in any way, a "mean" person.

She just shot you straight when everyone else was trying to not say anything. Heavier than the last time I saw her? Yep. Time to lose some weight?


+ Saw that we landed three football recruits with two of them being offensive linemen. I'll get to their LLUOI posts soon (I know next to nothing about either guy), but numbers-wise, I'm a bit confused. Let's just run the numbers.

There are a lot of offensive linemen on this roster right now. But four of them - Doug Kramer, Vederian Lowe, Alex Palczewski, and Blake Jeresaty - are seniors coming back for one more season. So yes, when you have "super seniors", you have a lot. There are 17 scholarship offensive linemen going through spring ball and more freshmen arriving this summer. Normally you carry around 15 scholarship linemen (plus some walkons), so 17 in the spring is a LOT. But, it's a one-off with these Super Seniors.

However, the numbers stay high even after these guys depart. This summer, a transfer arrives from Colgate (Jack Badovinac). My theory is that Badovinac plans to redshirt this fall (he can play in up to four games) as Doug Kramer's backup at center and then try to win the starting center job in 2022. So let's add him to the 2022 roster.

That means the scholarship offensive linemen (not counting the walkons) for the first game in 2022 looks like this. Please note that the year I'm listing (SR, JR, SO, or FR) is for 2022, not 2021. So 16 months from now.

Jack Badovinac (SR)
Alex Pihlstrom (SR)
Verdis Brown (JR)
Julian Pearl (JR)
Jordyn Slaughter (JR)
Evan Kirts (SO)
Josh Plohr (SO)
Moses Okpala (SO)
Phifer Griffin (SO)
Brevyn Jones (SO)
Blaise Sparks (SO)
Kevin Tyler (SO)
Zach Barlev (r-FR)
Josh Gesky (r-FR)
Josh Kreutz (r-FR)
Brody Wisecarver (r-FR)
Clayton Leonard (FR)
Joey Okla (FR)
Hunter Whiitenack (FR)

You like to keep 15 offensive linemen on scholarship. Some teams go higher than that, but when you do, you have to take away one scholarship from another position. Maybe you run with 4 scholarship QB's instead of five. Maybe two less linebackers than other programs carry. There's flexibility, but if you carry more than the "standard", you have to find the scholarships elsewhere. Everyone is capped at 85.

If we're at 19 right now (with offers still out to many of our "top" OL targets), well, that pretty much only means one thing. Attrition is coming. One way to look at that: attrition happens when there's new coaches and this is to be expected. Another way to look at that: they're not too keen on the 16 scholarship linemen they already have for 2022 and they're going to bring in a large OL class to start the OL rebuild immediately.

Had you asked me a month ago, I would have said that the OL class would have been 2 or 3. We already had 16 returning for 2022 and while some attrition can be expected, getting to 18 or 19 means "hope we can live with 6 cornerbacks and 4 tight ends" (or whatever). The numbers have to come from somewhere.

Now, with three of the first five scholarships being scooped up by offensive linemen, it feels like the OL class might be 4 or 5. Which means we'd be at 20 or 21. Which means grab two more scholarships from two other positions.

Again, coaches build however they want. The programs you think of as "Offensive Line U" typically carry lots of OL (and find ways around it at other positions). We're seeing an early point of emphasis here.

But I'm still surprised. 16 months before the 2015 season (so April of 2014) we knew of only eight scholarship offensive linemen for the 2015 roster (Boles, Karras, O'Connor, Flavin, Schmidt, Spencer, DiLauro, Allegretti). We then added three juco recruits and three freshmen to bring the number to 14 and that's how many scholarship linemen we carried for 2015.

As of right now, 16 months out, for 2022, we know of 19 scholarship offensive linemen. {insert eyeball emoji here}

+ I'm still so stuck on this "left-handed shooter" thing. Even with failing to remember that Luke Goode is actually right-handed (I noted him as a lefty in a post last week).

Utah transfer Alfonso Plummer: left-handed. Senior returning for a Super Senior season Trent Frazier: left-handed (duh). Shooting guard recruit who verballed and signed last week (Brandin Podziemski): left-handed. The LLUOI post I finally wrote last week for the player who verballed the day of the Drexel game (Reggie Bass): left-handed.

(The guy who started at SG last season but is now transferring out of the program: left-handed.)

(Kofi's backup the last two seasons who is leaving after three years to pursue professional opportunities back in Europe: left-handed.)

At this point, especially with the shooting guard thing, it has to be intentional. There just has to be something like "they feel like they found something unique with Trent and Adam last season and they want to keep going to it". I could see something like Coach Gentry going through film of how opponents defend this offense and noting that when defenders run out on our shooters they take bad angles because they expect a righty. And that means lefty shooters = higher percentage shots. Or something.

9 out of 10 humans are right-handed. Which means, that with a scholarship roster of 13, you expect one, maybe two lefties. Much more likely it would be one.

2021 roster had 3 lefties (Bezhanshvili, Frazier, Miller)
2022 roster has 3 lefties (Frazier, Plummer, Podziemski)
2023 roster already has 2 lefties (Podziemski, Bass)

Has to be a thing. Just has to be. I need to Aunt Barbara the next press conference:

"Brad, is it true you only want left-handed jump shooters?"


Speak Your Mind

Please login or register to post comments on the IlliniBoard.

Post Preview