The 90 Illini #75: Eian Pugh

Jun 14, 2022

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Remember when I used to give out my Camp Crush award? I'd go to Camp Rantoul, I'd watch all the practices, and I'd return to St. Louis fully infected with August Syndrome. I'd want to over-hype every freshman but I'd restrict myself to only one. And I called that one my Camp Crush.

If I was doing a spring ball crush this year, even though we only got to see 15 minutes of individual drills each day (and with only about a third of the freshman class on campus as early enrollees) I would have given it to Eian Pugh. It's just been so long since we had a long-striding wide receiver. Minnesota has had a dozen of them the last decade, but we either recruited short/quick guys or big "win the jumpball" guys. The last fluid, long-striding wideout in Champaign was probably... Geronimo Allison in 2015?

That's the kind of receiver I see when I watch Eian Pugh running routes. There are about 18 steps between "fluid & athletic" and "productive Big Ten receiver", but as far as first impressions go, it's just... a little crush.

75. Eian Pugh

Wide Receiver
Uniform number: 19
Year in school: True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Height: 6'-3" -- Weight: 160 lbs.
Hometown: Naperville, Illinois
High School: Fenwick HS
Five best offers: Iowa, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas, UNLV
Tom Cruise rating:


This was a really good recruiting win. I believe it was Iowa, Illinois, and Cincinnati. He had committed to Cincinnati in 2020 but then decommitted and flipped to Illinois. Now I need to go look up the timing of that.

  • Committed to Cincy on Christmas Day in 2020.
  • Once official visits were allowed again after the 15 month moratorium (they were restarted June 1, 2021), he set up three visits. Illinois, then Cincinnati, then Iowa.
  • Visited Illinois on June 4th and Cincinnati on June 18th.
  • Canceled his Iowa official visit (scheduled for June 25th) and committed to Illinois on June 23rd.

Those are the kind of battles we need to win over and over. Especially for a kid who wants to decide early and then enroll early.

2022 Outlook

I'm sure you have this question for me.

"Robert, you said all those nice things about Pugh at the top and you gave him 3.5 Cruises and we need wide receivers and that lands him... 75th on The 90 Illini?"

Yes. Two reasons:

  1. He's listed on the roster at 160 lbs. He's a long, lean athlete but the lean needs to be a little less lean. Really difficult to play in a Big Ten game if you're 6'-3" and 160 lbs.
  2. Maybe I just caught his worst 15 minutes of practice every day, but I saw him drop twice as many passes as any other receiver. He's going to have to work on his hands.

Both of those are fully understandable. I'm totally fine if he needs 18-24 months of Wide Receiver Camp. Tank will need those two years to get him up to at least 190 lbs.

So that's why I'm putting him 75th. I'd love to see him be a receiver who is ready right away in 2022. He has the athleticism to play immediately. But until the roster says 190 lbs, I'm not sure I can have him in my two-deep.


ktcesw on June 15, 2022 @ 06:08 AM

IMO, you are placing too much emphasis on weight and strength for skill position players. Having those things are great but, not initially, a desperate need. They will come with time. In the meantime, let them make plays until the defenses adjust.

SactownIllini on June 15, 2022 @ 09:16 AM

Love the musical references in your posts. And yes, would love to see the type of receiver you're mentioning at Illinois and successful. I'll take EPu as GMo.

BananaShampoo on June 15, 2022 @ 09:51 AM

From Baroque classical to late 90s dance music. Robert's musical references run the gamut. I agree with the first poster, though. With the skill position guys the size/strength thing is much less important. Does he have the skills and the speed and the hands? If yes then he can play. Sounds like Eian needs to work on the hands but once that's improved, get him out there!

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