The 90 Illini #84: Kevin Tyler
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The amount of caught-up I currently feel is quite amazing. Not on writing. I'm way behind. But my list of 30-some things from May is down to maybe four more things. Just think of one of those cartoons where the inbox is stacked all the way to the ceiling. Well, now the inbox is down to just a few papers.
Which means a big run of articles the next four days. At least two per day. Maybe three.
OK, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
84. Kevin Tyler
Uniform number: 78
Year in school: Redshirt Freshman (4 years to play 4; with the Covid rule, technically 5 years to play 4)
Height: 6'-3" -- Weight: 325 lbs.
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
High School: Ritenour HS
Five best offers: Missouri, Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana, Iowa State
Tom Cruise rating:
2020 statistics: Did not play in any games.
This is your daily reminder that 2020 didn't count towards eligibility. So while a kid like Tyler is technically a "redshirt freshman", with the Covid rule, he's just a regular old freshman. The 13 freshmen in the 2020 class are the same eligibility as the 18 freshmen in the 2021 class. It's just one big class of 31 freshmen with five years to play four. The only difference: the 2020 kids have one year down academically which means they are "owed" three more years of a scholarship. After 2023, it will be up to the coaches as to whether they return for 2024 and 2025.
Lovie loved recruiting massive dudes on the OL (like Verdis Brown and Vederian Lowe and Blaise Sparks), and Tyler is another one in that line. He's listed at 325, but seeing him in person I swear he's 340. He had a solid offer list in HS, picked Illinois, didn't play at all last year, and now enters a fall camp with 20 other scholarship linemen looking to grab a spot in the two-deep.
I'll just say it: there are no spots on the OL to be had this fall. That's why I have Tyler at #84 on this list. I'm not even sure there are many spots left on the two-deep. I think we know the top seven linemen for sure. Top three tackles are Vederian Lowe, Alex Palczewski, and Julian Pearl. Top four interior linemen would be Doug Kramer, Blake Jeresaty, Alex Pihlstrom, and Verdis Brown.
Then there's Colgate transfer Jack Badinovac who I think will redshirt (so he can start in 2022) but he can still play in four games and redshirt so let's make him the backup center. That means there are two unknown spots on the OL: the fourth tackle and the sixth interior guy. And since the OL almost never goes past a rotation of seven (five starters, one extra tackle, one extra guard), spots 9 and 10 probably won't get on the field.
So the 2021 outlook for a guy like Kevin Tyler is basically the same as it is for the 2021 recruits coming in this week. You're basically a first-year player learning the new system. Next year, after Kramer, Palcho, Vederian, and Jeresaty leave, THEN things open up and you can start to jostle for position in the two-deep.