The 90 Illini #88: Cooper Davis
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That's Cooper Davis there in the picture trying to tackle Chase Hayden in the spring game. This fall, he'll be blocking for Chase Hayden, because after the spring game, he switched from defensive end to tight end. He's now one of 93 players who have switched to tight end this offseason.
Actually, I should total that up. At the beginning of the semester there were four tight ends on the roster: Daniel Barker, Luke Ford, Griffin Moore, and walkon Tip Reiman. They then added a walkon transfer from Northern Illinois - Mike Cerniglia. And they also added a fullback transfer from Michigan State (who will be more of an H-back here), Max Rosenthal (great name). Rosenthal arrives this month.
Once spring ball starts, they move walkon QB Josh Beetham to tight end. Then they move walkon C Preston Engel to tight end. Then they move walkon S/LB Michael Marchese to tight end. Then they move Cooper Davis to tight end.
So no, it's not 93 players moved to tight end. They simply moved four players there (plus added two transfer there). Oh, and there's already two tight ends in the recruiting class. I feel like tight end is going to be important in this offense.
88. Cooper Davis
Uniform number: 43 (but that will be changing because he just moved from DE to TE and there's already a TE wearing #43).
Year in school: Freshman (4 years to play 4; with the Covid rule, technically 5 years to play 4)
Height: 6'-6" -- Weight: 235 lbs.
Hometown: Melbourne, Florida
High School: Viera HS
Five best offers: Tennessee, Missouri, Louisville, West Virginia, Minnesota
Tom Cruise rating:
2020 statistics: Played in the final two games, recorded no statistics.
Davis was one of the late flips in the 2020 class. After winning six games and getting a Redbox Bowl bid, Illinois flipped Tre'von Riggins from Miami, flipped Jer'Zhan Newton from Maryland, and flipped Cooper Davis from Missouri. For Davis, it was because Missouri fired Barry Odom. Davis opened back up, visited Illinois, and signed on early signing day.
He was a defensive end in Lovie's scheme last fall (only played in two games as a true freshman), and then this spring, in the new scheme, he was tried at outside linebacker. That's the biggest position switch on the entire roster with this scheme change (defensive ends playing outside linebacker and dropping into coverage), and after three weeks of being tried there, Davis was switched to TE. It happened after the spring game (so the last three practices of the spring). Maybe we can call that a... late flip.
Because Covid meant that 2020 never happened (eligibility-wise), Cooper Davis can pretend that 2020 never happened. He didn't play defensive end, he didn't spend a weird year wearing a mask and getting tested first thing in the morning every day - just wipe it clean. Now he's a freshman, with five years to play four, at tight end. Pretend like he's just now arriving on campus.
With Daniel Barker and Luke Ford entrenched as the starting tight ends, and with Max Rosenthal transferring in to be the blocking TE, and with Griffin Moore and Tip Reiman already knowing the position, I figure Cooper Davis will be well down the pecking order as he learns the playbook. Which is why I have him down here at #88. There's a slight chance they rotate 4-5 tight ends and he makes that rotation, but I think the most likely scenario is a redshirt year (he gets another one now) where he learns his new position.