The 90 Illini #61: James Frenchie
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For every single one of these intros I want to be all "it seems silly to be counting down to a late-starting season that might not even happen...". As of today, there's a football game on October 3rd at Rutgers. The schedule will probably change, and I'm counting down to the Saturday before because that's theoretically when our 10th game would be, but still, a countdown to anything seems foolish. IF there's a season, it might start on September 5th, 12th, 19th, or 26th.
Maybe I shouldn't consider this a countdown anymore. Let's just call it a list. Here's the 61st-most important Illini heading into the season:
61. James Frenchie
Uniform number: not known yet
Year in school: True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Height: 5'-9" -- Weight: 175 lbs.
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
High School: Trinity Catholic
Five best offers: Tennessee, Nebraska, South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri
Tom Cruise rating: 3.5 Cruises
In another post I was making some point about how the explosion of talent in the St. Louis area could probably be sourced to really great youth football programs being developed over the last 10-15 years. In searching for one of those youth programs, I landed on this video of James Frenchie playing 8u football ten years ago. I'm guessing that's his dad doing the filming - I love a good dad reaction when his 8 year-old son picks off a pass.
Frenchie was the most recent (final?) Trinity Catholic player to choose the Illini, so all eyes will be on Isaiah Williams, Shammond Cooper, Reggie Love, and James Frenchie to see how this Trinity experiment pays off. Rankings-wise, at least, they're all top-20 in terms of "most talented players on the roster".
Frenchie is more the slot receiver type. So this seems to set up well for the Rod Smith offense. "Slot receiver" isn't just one position - Rod Smith likes to use a lot of bunch formations, so many times there will be two "slot receivers" on the field, with the slot guys on the outside from time to time. But if it's a rotation of two guys, it probably goes like this:
2020: Donny Navarro (JR) and Trevon Sidney (SR)
2021: Donny Navarro (SR) and either Kyron Cumby (rs-SO) or James Frenchie (rs-FR)
2022 & 2023: Cumby and Frenchie
For that reason I can see a redshirt here. Maybe something like Isaiah Williams last year: plan out four games where he might be able to contribute and then shut him down to save the redshirt year.