The 90 Illini #82: Nick Fedanzo
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I'm just telling you - this was a very difficult 90 Illini list to compile. Normally, 20 seniors depart and everyone moves up. This year, only five players departed and eight transferred in (plus 18 freshmen arrived) so several players moved down. Chase Hayden arriving as a transfer plus Kyron Cumby moving to tailback means that Nick Fedanzo moves down from 73 last year to 82 this year.
Which sounds like a down-vote - a third-year player is #82 on this list - but I swear that it's not. Any other year this post would be "now a redshirt sophomore, I have moved Nick Fedanzo up to #59 on the list", but with 99 scholarship players, there just isn't room for everyone.
82. Nick Fedanzo
Uniform number: 24
Year in school: Redshirt Freshman (3 years to play 3; with the Covid rule, technically 4 years to play 4)
Height: 6'-0" -- Weight: 200 lbs.
Hometown: Lombard, Illinois
High School: Montini Catholic HS
Five best offers: Air Force, Kent State, Ball State, Georgetown, South Dakota State
Tom Cruise rating:
2020 statistics: Played in 7 games, mostly on special teams - 1 carry for 2 yards against Penn State.
This is your ninth reminder that 2019 recruits who redshirted - which is everyone from Nick Fedanzo to Isaiah Williams - are all redshirt freshmen this fall even though they're juniors in school. They redshirted in 2019, 2020 didn't count, so 2021 will be their third freshman season. Grad transfers aren't really a thing anymore (with the new rule, everyone can "grad transfer" and be immediately eligible), but if they were still a thing, there would be players graduating next spring after three years (with three full years of summer school, you can do it) and announcing things on Twitter like "I'm a grad transfer with three years of eligibility remaining." Someone might get a doctorate while playing college football.
For Fedanzo, he played in three games (mostly on special teams) in 2019 and then redshirted. In 2020 he played in seven of the eight games (again, mostly on special teams) and then he got one carry in the Penn State game (the "bonus" game just before Christmas that no one remembers besides the fact that Bielema was announced that day). Now, as he enters his third year, he's a redshirt freshman.
The tailback rotation will be quite deep this year. Two tailbacks had more than 50 ypg last year, and if you project those numbers over a 13-game season (like the year before), the numbers would have looked like this:
Chase Brown: 878 yards
Mike Epstein: 681 yards
Given that the leading rusher in 2019 bowl season (Reggie Corbin) had 675 yards, those are significant ypg numbers last year. It's why Brown was 3rd-Team All Big Ten and why Epstein was honorable mention. Add to that mix Chase Hayden (transfer from Arkansas/ECU) and Reggie Love (now a sophomore) plus a healthy Jakari Norwood and it's a very crowded backfield.
Where does that leave Fedanzo? Well, #82 on this list. But hey, he's only a redshirt freshman, so plenty of time to work his way up.