Looks Like University Of Illinois - Kenenna Odeluga
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I think I'm gonna have to cut my May short. May is always my "write very little" month, but The 90 Illini starts on Sunday (!!), and I have eight (yes, 8) LLUOI posts to write, so my coast through May will have to stop. Gonna try to do all eight LLUOI posts before Sunday, plus there's some other things to write about. Thanks for a great 25 days, May coast.
Let's check some May Coast numbers, actually. Here's the number of posts in May the last several years:
2021: 13 so far
Now, it's not like I'm not writing more. The five mailbag posts earlier this month totaled 10,915 words. If I was going for post numbers, I'd do two questions and 750 words per mailbag post and instead of five mailbag posts there'd be 14 or 15. But that's lame. Why am I talking about this? Let's move on.
Gonna try for eight LLUOI posts by Sunday, then The 90 Illini begins. Somehow, Sunday is 90 days from our first football game.
Know what else has been 90 days? Number of days since Kenenna Odeluga committed. OK that's not true. It's been 73 days. He committed the day of the Iowa game in the Big Ten Tournament, and I don't think I even thought about the news again for 40 days. Actually, at first I thought he was a preferred walkon recruit (and I don't write LLUOI posts for walkons), but then I found out he was a scholarship recruit.
The reason I thought he was PWO: he committed in March. Usually, there's no scholarship players added after signing day in early February. But this is a weird year, and he technically committed during his senior season of high school football, so I really should have investigated him. All I remember looking up at the time: he was committed to Penn (Ivy League) but flipped to Illinois.
So I'm flying even more blind than I usually fly. Let's learn about him together, shall we?
We'll start with his offers. Going through his Twitter profile, his first offer was January of his sophomore year when Northern Illinois offered. It looks like he took two unofficial visits that sophomore spring (to Iowa and Minnesota) and then visited two schools during the fall (this is fall of his junior year now) - Michigan State in September and Notre Dame in November. Now we enter the winter/spring of his junior year (which is when a lot of the recruiting happens).
In the next three months, he gets offers from pretty much the entire MAC conference plus Wyoming. All told he tweeted offers from 9 of the 12 MAC schools. That's the spring when you would normally pick up offers from P5 schools (if your junior film is solid), but no P5 offers came, apparently. He named a top-6 in May of Cornell, Penn, Western Michigan, Buffalo, Northern Illinois, and Bowling Green. But keep in mind, this is last May during Covid, so he did not have any P5 recruiters coming through Chicago to take a look at him in April and May nor did he have the ability to camp in June. Active recruiting had halted in March.
In the fall, obviously, there was no high school football in Illinois. In December, he committed to Penn, and it looks like he did sign his Letter Of Intent to Penn (according to this Instagram post from Mount Carmel FB). So I'm not sure what happened after that. He must have asked out of his LOI, and Penn must have allowed him to do so. (Wait - isn't there some thing where there's no athletic scholarships in the Ivy League? Maybe that's part of this? Maybe there's no LOI because the financial package is different? I guess it doesn't matter. Moving on.)
When I started researching here I thought the story might be Palcho-ish. As in, first few games of his senior year he's blowing up and suddenly the offers come. I figured that maybe we offered after some great film from the first few games of his senior (spring) season. But he committed on March 13th, and Mount Carmel's first game was March 19th, so that's not the case.
I just realized something. This might make you laugh out loud. I know his recruiting profile says "ATH" and I've yet to watch any film and I'm just now researching him and, uh, I don't know what position he plays. Seriously, no idea. This kid committed 73 days ago and I don't even know what position he plays. All of the recruiting graphics I just scrolled through showed some running back stuff, so... he's a running back? This should be fun.
OK, so his HUDL says "RB/LB", so this is not the WR/DB kind of "ATH". And I also just dug a little deeper and found this tweet talking about his weight/muscle gain since his freshman year of high school. He says that he's 215 there (just after his junior year of high school), which means I'm guessing he arrives on campus around 225-230, so yeah, that probably means linebacker.
So we have a Mount Carmel player who had 9 MAC offers last spring, didn't have a fall season, was going to Penn, wasn't offered by the old staff, but was offered by the new staff. He backed out of Penn and picked Illinois in March. Visited places like Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan State but was not offered (although Covid could play a role there given that he couldn't camp).
Let's go to film next. By not writing this in March, I get to use some of his April film. There's not much, but I'll gif these three plays from a game in April (still bizarre to say). I'll link all three plays and then we'll talk about them.
First off, let's talk about the production of the film. This is a player who has already committed to Illinois and then playing HS football in the spring. Someone (could be an assistant high school coach, could be the kid himself) put up 5-6 plays from the Brother Rice game this spring. These are not technically "highlights". For everyone else, in a normal year, the kid (or the coach) is poring over 10 games and pulling all the best plays. This is likely just "tackles he made in one game".
So I can't really glean much besides his frame. Compact athlete who, although a little short, has the kind of body type you can hopefully build into a linebacker. Just look at the two linebackers next to him on that last highlight. Neither has the frame to play Big Ten football. Then watch Odeluga's burst in the three highlights. He's clearly one of the best athletes on the field.
None of the film is "wow, this is a 4-star linebacker" or anything. But he's a good project. Linebacker with nine MAC offers (likely because he's a bit short) who might turn out to have the instincts to play linebacker in college. And he's at a traditional power in Chicago where we'd like to gain a foothold. I get the offer. Project recruit, but could grow into the kind of linebacker we need.
Can't go many Tom Cruises though. I like my .25 and .75 Cruises a lot lately, so I'll use one of those.
Kenenna Odeluga - One and three-quarter Tom Cruises