The 90 Illini #89: Isaac Darkangelo
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I did squeeze several walkons into the list, and The Dark Angel is one of them. When weighing incoming scholarship linebackers (like Dwayne Johnson and Kalen Villanueva) vs. walkons currently here, a walkon like Darkangelo slots higher right now. Especially since he got an entire spring learning the new defense.
Let's talk about that below.
89. Isaac Darkangelo
Uniform number: 38
Year in school: Junior (3 years to play 2)
Height: 6'-1" -- Weight: 225 lbs.
Hometown: Brighton, Michigan
Previous School: Northern Michigan (Division II)
Five best offers: n/a - D-II walkon
Tom Cruise rating: n/a - walkon
2020 statistics: Sat out the season after transferring from Northern Michigan.
Darkangleo went to Detroit Catholic Central where he was a first team all state linebacker. From there he went to Northern Michigan where he had 60 tackles as a freshman and then 105 tackles (in 10 games) as a sophomore. He's named All-Conference, Northern Michigan names him male Athlete of the Year, and it's time to maybe make the leap. He pulls a Fej (or a Donny) and transfers to Illinois as a walkon.
And just like Fej and Donny, he had to sit out the first season he was here. Which, thinking about this out loud, means that he doesn't really get a Covid year. D-II athletes have the same clock the D-I athletes work under, so you arrive as a freshman as 5-to-play-4. He plays as a freshman so he's 4-to-play-3. He plays as a sophomore so he's 3-to-play-2. He then transfers to Illinois and has to sit out. He would have gone into this season as 2 to play 2, Covid means he gets 3 to play 2, but he's still just a "play 2" even though he didn't play last year.
Let me explain what I mean by that. The big benefit of the Covid rule is that you could play and then it didn't count. So Isaiah Williams is a freshman again this fall (for the third time - redshirt year, then Covid year, and now freshman again because 2020 didn't count). Darkangelo had to sit out in 2020, so he didn't really get the benefit of "play a season but it doesn't count". He still just has two more seasons he can play college football (although he does now get three more seasons to play those two years, not just two).
The good news for Dark Angel fans wanting to see him on the field: he was one of the top three linebackers on the "orange team" (first string) during the spring game. The bad news for Dark Angel fans wanting to see him on the field: four linebackers from last season (Jake Hansen, Khalan Tolson, Tarique Barnes, and Shammond Cooper) did not play in the spring game. So for the first practice at training camp, at the two inside linebacker spots in this defense, Darkangelo will move from first string this spring to third string at that practice.
But still, he knows the defense, was a starter there in the spring, and can maybe push some guys for playing time. Even if he doesn't crack the rotation at linebacker, maybe he can make a push for some special teams snaps. This is his fourth season of college football, and that experience might be enough to get him into the rotation. Which means it's enough to get this walkon into The 90 Illini.