The 90 Illini - 80 ~ 76

Jun 16, 2017

I really need a database. Like, a big spreadsheet of all the Illini football rosters the last 35 years. I'm fairly certain this will be the youngest team of my lifetime, but I don't have the statstics to prove it. Yet. You know, what I really need is an intern.

To the next set of players on the list.....

80. Deon Pate

Defensive Lineman
6'-3", 245 lbs.
Freshman (on scholarship, 5 years to play 4)
Trinity Christian Academy / Jacksonville, Florida

What I Know About Him

Pate was a late flip from Appalachian State in this last recruiting class. I think that will be a thing with this "evalute evaluate evaluate" staff. They flipped Pate from App State, Hobbs from Western Kentucky, Woods from Memphis, DeGroot from FIU - when there are scholarships open late in the class, they'll mine the Group Of Five conferences for kids they think can play Power Five ball.

And I think they'll be similar to Pate's journey. Commits to Appalachian State in the summer, has a solid senior year, with the senior film he gets offers from Big Ten programs Purdue, Rutgers, and Illinois, and he picks Illinois. I see senior film being a big thing with this coaching staff.

What I Expect From Him

Like Jamal Woods, I put him down as "defensive lineman" instead of "defensive end/tackle". Lovie has said that not all seven DE recruits will end up at DE - some will move inside to tackle. I'd guess that Woods and Pate are the two most likely to move inside.

On film, Pate looks every bit of 245 lbs, so it's possible that his "move inside" becomes "moves to nose tackle". Most of the time, when a defensive end "moves inside", he goes to the three-technique tackle spot (which is still kind of defensive end-y). But I could see Pate bulking up to 285, skipping right over the 3-tech, and heading straight to the nose.

79. Marc Mondesir

6'-2", 210 lbs.
Freshman (on scholarship, 5 years to play 4)
St. Rita High School / Chicago, Illinois

What I Know About Him

Mondesir was a camp offer about a year ago right now. Didn't have an offer, went to an Illinois camp, the coaches offered him on the spot. As I recall, four coaching staffs offered him at that camp, but we were the only Power Five offer.

So this is one of those "not highly recruited, but the coaches saw the thing they're looking for at {insert position} and offered immediately. Some of those kids work out... some of them, there's a reason no other Power Five schools ever offered.

What I Expect From Him

I'd say he's a certain redshirt. I believe there are six linebackers who will be heavily in the rotation - Tre Watson, Del'Shawn Phillips, Jake Hansen, Dele Harding, Justice Williams, and Julian Jones. So with every starter and every backup already slotted (at least on my depth chart), that means the freshmen behind those guys would be hard-pressed to break through.

So put me down for Mondesir taking a redshirt and learning the defense. And remember, this is The 90 Illini, and we're in the 70's, which means it's going to be a bunch of scholarship freshmen where I say "redshirt, get stronger, learn the scheme".

78. Isaiah Gay

Defensive End
6'-3", 215 lbs.
Freshman (on scholarship, 5 years to play 4)
Northern Nash High School / Rocky Mount, North Carolina

What I Know About Him

I know I was surprised when I checked his 247 recruiting page last month. When Gay signed he was a complete unknown. So unknown that he signed a week after Signing Day. A completely unknown kid who was headed to Elon University (FCS) and then suddenly he signs with Illinois. As you would expect, the scouting services assigned him 2-stars and put him as the lowest-ranked player in our class (by a fair bit - he was one of the lowest-rated players in the last five years).

And then I went to check his profile last month and 247 (in their own ratings) had moved him up to a near four-star. Players rated 79 to 88 receive three stars, and they scored him at 87. In fact, if you look at their list of defensive ends in the 2017 class, they ranked Owen Carney (the kid we beat Florida State to land) at #36 and Isaiah Gay at #43.

This change moved Gay's composite score up from 76-something to 81-something (meaning he was no longer the lowest-rated recruit in the class). If other services did the same (reviewed film instead of just slapping 2-stars on a kid who flipped from Elon to Illinois), I wonder how high his ranking would have climbed?

What I Expect From Him

When I asked Lovie about the seven defensive ends in the class, the first two names he mentioned were Bobby Roundtree and Isaiah Gay. Now, that could just be because Lovie loves weakside DE's - long, lanky guys who will grow into pash rushers. But he's visibly excited when talking about the two smallest DE recruits.

Does that mean Gay will play right away? I don't think so. That's why I have him down here at #78. 215 lbs is tiny for a defensive end, so he's gonna need a few years with Coach Boese until he's ready for the field.

77. Dawson DeGroot

6'-2", 190 lbs.
Freshman (on scholarship, 5 years to play 4)
Fort Meyers High School / Fort Meyers, Florida

What I Know About Him

He was the latest of late flips. He had some mid-level offers (Boston College, Cincinnati, UConn, Southern Miss) but was waiting on that big offer. When it didn't come, he committed to the local school (Florida International). And then we offered a few hours later. And then he decommitted from FIU and flipped to Illinois.

Oh, and he can do this:

What I Expect From Him

I expect... a redshirt. There's a slight chance he could slide in as the fourth safety (really, the only three "knowns" are Stanley Green, Pat Nelson, and Julian Hylton), but most likely he redshirts and learns the defense.

In the future? Make someone's helmet pop off. (Totally legal tackle, by the way.)

76. Ayo Shogbonyo

6'-2", 215 lbs.
Redshirt Freshman (on scholarship, 4 years to play 4)
Mansfield Summit High School / Arlington, Texas

What I Know About Him

I think this is our first redshirt freshman on the list. Shogbonyo was part of Cubit's 2016 class, a late addition from Texas. As I recall, he was the lowest-rated player in that 2016 class. Had one offer from Army, we offered late in January, he accepted.

My impression of him on the practice field was that he was long and lanky. I could see Lovie really liking him because he has that outside linebacker length. But I'm not sure he has the athleticism to beat out the linebackers ahead of him.

What I Expect From Him

My first thought here is special teams. How do redshirt freshmen prove themselves to the coaching staff? Especially redshirt freshmen linebackers? Make some noise on coverage teams (punt return, kickoff return). No better way to show the coaching staff that you're ready to go out and tackle someone then to go out and tackle someone on special teams.

So put me down for Shogbonyo being a special-teamer this year. As mentioned above, the six linebackers seem to be set (in my mind). So that's his chance to make some noise.


HiggsBoson on June 17 @ 08:27 AM CDT

Sometimes the lower guys are the most interesting to read about.

By the way, it's Ft. Myers.

Jacob on June 18 @ 08:46 AM CDT

I think Deon Pate plays. I like him a lot. I think he is ready before Lere. I think Lere will be better year 3 but now Deon will play. I wouldn't be shocked if he the #2 strongside end this season

Speak Your Mind

Please login or register to post comments on the IlliniBoard.