6 positions Illinois football must prioritize in the offseason


Anderson Kimball Decatur (IL) Herald & Review

Champaign, Illinois — Illinois is one week away from the start of the early signing period and just over a week removed from the start of the offseason transfer window.

This means that while the football team’s season technically doesn’t end after the ReliaQuest Bowl on January 2nd, the recruiting season and off-season are in full swing.

Illinois could always look to upgrade their skill positions to get top wide receivers, or get running backs to fill the void left by Chase Brown, but Illini will be on the move this offseason. We plan to have multiple positions available to deal with. Here’s what might be at the top of your team’s priority list:

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quarterbackThe uncertainty over Tommy DeVito’s exemption from the NCAA makes this a top priority for Illinois, which will be addressed by whether it gets another year from DeVito or visits the portal.

DeVito set single-season program records for passer rate (142.3) and completion percentage (69.9%) in his first season at Champaign under new offensive coordinator Barry Lanney.

If Illinois can’t get DeVito for next season, they’ll probably have to go to the transfer portal.

Illinois defensive back Devon Witherspoon, 31, during an NCAA football game in West Bloomington, Indiana, Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Doug McShooler)

Doug McShuller

Illinois loses all-American Devon Witherspoon and major depth piece Terrell Jennings.

Taz Nicholson has started 10 games for the Illini this season, recording an interception, a forced fumble and seven passes defended. He will be back in the lineup after returning from a season-ending wrist injury in November. I was.

Young players like Xavier Scott, Elijah Mc-Cantos and Tyson Rooks each played a few snaps last season, but Illini isn’t just opposite Nicholson looking for more proven options at Portal. is ready.

tight endThe Illini will lose two of their three main tight end options this offseason to Luke Ford and Michael Marquez. Tip Lyman is back.

Illinois offers a couple of transfer tight ends, including Maryland tight end CJ Dippre, Cal Poly tight end Josh Cuevas, and Colorado transfer Tanner Arkin.

chattanooga illinois football

Illinois defensive lineman Keith Randolph Jr. advanced a fumble during the Sept. 22 game in Champaign, Illinois.

Charles Rex Arbogast, Associated Press

Illinois will lose defensive tackle Calvin Avery, and last year’s transfers Terra Edwards and Larshan Wilkins could form a defensive tackle tandem to replace him.

Defensive ends Keith Randolph and Johnny Newton will each make the decision to declare themselves in the NFL Draft. Illinois must replace one or both of them if declared.

offensive line safetyBoth of these are partially addressed in the Illini’s first transfer additions of East Carolina center Avery Jones and Louisville safety Nicario Harper.

Illinois has a junior college transfer scheduled to return and restart in 2022 with Isaiah Adams and Zai Crisler, but could lose the rest of the line as Alex Palchewski and Alex Pilstrom run out of eligibility. I have.

Julian Perle also participated in the program for five seasons and attended the Senior Day event. He was able to forget his last year of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft.

Jones seems like a candidate to step into the center, and Illini promises to fill a spot at Hutchinson Community College’s three-star prospect, a junior college named Desmond Schuster. Jordyn Slaughter could return to the starting role next year after joining Chrysler’s drive as the sixth man this season. There is still room for another piece that brings competition and depth.

Harper could be lined up to fill one of the spots left by safety Sydney Brown or Kendall Smith, and freshman Matthew Bailey will move into the starting lineup after backing up Brown this season. We still need players like Quan Martin who played Nickelback, Slot Corner and Free Safety. Illinois can deal with it with a transfer or a young corner on the roster.

Follow Anderson Kimball on Twitter: @byAndy Kimball.


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