The 90 Illini #13: Tip Reiman

Aug 17, 2022

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I went to look this up (for no reason at all) the other day and it took me forever but I finally found the thing I was looking for. This was from April 7th, and going back through a spring practice timeline, it looks like we got to see 10 minutes of practice that day. I must have watched the tight ends because here's what I wrote in my notes near the bottom of that article:

I need a hot take here. Let's see... got it. Tip Reiman might be the #1 tight end.

Nearly word for word.

At this point, though, I wouldn't even need to put "hot take" in front of it. It feels like that will be the case. And it was the case before the coaches started talking about Tip after practices the last few weeks. And before it was announced on Saturday afternoon that Luke Ford would miss the final week of camp. It was probably the case before I wrote that on April 7th.

Tip Reiman, from the start of camp and perhaps all spring, seems to be on his way to becoming the #1 tight end. That's not really a shot at Luke Ford (who will be a big part of this offense). I think Reiman and Ford will be on the field together a lot this season. But when there's a single tight-end set on third and five and the play call is a little 6 yard curl to the TE, I believe it will be Reiman.

Which, based on the way lists work, you probably already guessed. I had Ford at #20 and I have Reiman at...

13. Tip Reiman

Tight End
Uniform number: 89
Year in school: Sophomore (without the Covid waiver, 3 years to play 2; with the Covid waiver, technically 4 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-5" -- Weight: 260 lbs.
Hometown: Rapid City, South Dakota
High School: O'Gorman HS
Five best offers: n/a - walkon
Tom Cruise rating: n/a - walkon

2021 statistics: Played in all 12 games. 3 catches for 43 yards and 1 touchdown.


I remember writing about Reiman his very first home game (during the Covid season). It was the game against Purdue where Brandon Peters and Griffin Moore tested positive for Covid and we had 15 other players out due to quarantine rules. Let me see if I can find it.

Found it. The thing I wrote about Tip (this was his freshman year and his first home game):

Walkon tight end Tip Reiman is on kickoff coverage and is shockingly fast for a 6'-5" guy. Caught my eye on kickoff coverage (saw him running and was all "who is THAT?"). I'm marking that down in my brain as "a guy who will help sometime in the future".

That post is actually a fun read (for me). I like seeing the things I was thinking two years ago. If you want to learn about Reiman, skip down to the "2022 Outlook" section. If you want to read the end of that post on the Purdue game in 2020, here's the final note about our pass defense that day and then my "I need to find some good things after this awful loss" list:

+ The real story here, though, is simple: Brohm's offense against Lovie's defense. We hired a defensive head coach and he runs that defense; Purdue hired an offensive head coach and he runs that offense. That offense went up against that defense today. And both were mostly healthy (Purdue had the biggest loss with Rondale Moore out). The result: a running game held mostly in check (80 yards on the ground, 2.6 yards per carry) and a passing offense that could do whatever it wanted.

Their passing statistics: 29-35 for 376 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. That, right there, is a problem problem. Through two games, I don't even need to look at the efficiency stats: we have one of the worst pass defenses in the country. 20-21 and then 29-35 - that's enough right there. All day to throw, receivers finding soft spot after soft spot. Such an alarming thing.

And now Minnesota comes to town with their Morgan-to-Bateman combo which is better than O'Connell-to-Bell. Come on, wind and rain.

+ Need to find some good. A list:

  • The second half defense was better. The only touchdown drive went 23 yards. One 23-yard TD drive and then no other second half points (besides the Purdue defense scoring on a fumble recovery).
  • Jer'Zhan Newton is now the #3 DT and with Jamal Woods leaving this game with an injury he might start next week? His forced fumble kept this team in the game.
  • Walkon tight end Tip Reiman is on kickoff coverage and is shockingly fast for a 6'-5" guy. Caught my eye on kickoff coverage (saw him running and was all "who is THAT?"). I'm marking that down in my brain as "a guy who will help sometime in the future".
  • Chase Brown and Mike Epstein split the carries (Epstein had 13, Brown 11) and put up 24 carries for 136 yards (5.7 ypc).
  • With starting center Doug Kramer out plus sixth-man Jordyn Slaughter (and who I'm guessing was seventh-man, Brevyn Jones), 8th-man Alex Pihlstrom, a walkon, started at left guard. And this is only his first year at OL having spent his first three seasons at tight end. Really great showing for a guy who had played in one game his career (mop-up duty late in the 4th quarter against Rutgers last year).
  • Pretty mad that Blake Hayes' first punt wasn't downed at the one. Would have been a great day for him. "Two punts, one to each coffin corner, one downed at the one, one downed at the three". Compare that with what Purdue's punter did and it's night and day.

I think that's all I have. Started out as a great day, now I'm headed to bed to think about what 0-3 means if we lose to Minnesota next week.

Kinda crazy, right? I note a true freshman defensive lineman (Newton), a true freshman walkon tight end (Reiman), and a "really great showing" from a walkon offensive lineman (Pihlstrom). Now, two years later, all three are in the top 14 players on The 90 Illini.

2022 Outlook

Reiman only spent one year as a walkon. He played in every game as a true freshman (for Lovie) and then, at the beginning of last season, Bret Bielema put him on scholarship. 2020 didn't "count" so Tip was a freshman again last year. So that means he has three more seasons of eligibility (this season and two more).

He played in all 12 games last year and all eight games in 2020 so... he's going to play in at least 56 games as an Illini. Can we get that to 60? Let's see, bowl games in 2022, 2023, and 2024 and a Big Ten Championship Game appearance in 2024 as well - yep, that's 60 games.

Any time I write something like that - acknowledging he'll be the starting tight end in 2024 - I think of the progression from here to there. He'll be better as a senior than as a junior and he'll be better as a junior than as a sophomore. So I should probably tamp down my expectations for 2022. He's still the 13th-most important player, but he's probably not "there" yet. Solid year this year, better next year, make a run at all-conference as a senior.


illinijimbo on August 17, 2022 @ 02:45 PM

I'm looking forward to some 3 TE sets with Williams as a wide out....

Force single coverage and roll him across the flat .... play action and ... big gash of yards ..

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