2019 Depth Chart

Sep 23, 2018

It's a September bye week tradition! And because the Big Ten always hands us a bye week in September so that the favored programs get a mid-October bye week (I get it - I'd protect them too), it's a September tradition. We know a lot about this team now - let's see what it looks like next year.

Here's the anticipated three-deep, and then we'll break it down. Incoming 2019 freshmen are in italics. And I'm assuming 11 of the current freshmen do not redshirt this year: Avery, Barker, S. Brown, J. Holmes, Joseph, Martin, Rivers, Sandy, Tolson, Ware, and Wyatt. So I will list them as sophomores, everyone else as redshirt freshmen.

QB | Rivers (SO) | Williams (FR) | Robinson (rs-FR)
RB | Epstein (JR) | Corbin (SR) | Bonner (JR)
TE | Dorsey (JR) | Barker (SO) | B. Walker (SR)
LT | Lowe (JR) | Cerny (rs-JR) | Unije (rs-FR)
LG | K. Green (rs-SO) | Stover (SO-walkon) | Engel (rs-FR walkon)
C | Kramer (rs-JR) | Gavin (rs-JR) | Martin (SR)
RG | Boyd (rs-SO) | Myers (rs-FR) | Solomon (SR)
RT | Palczewski (JR) | Trainer (rs-JR) | Slaughter (rs-FR)
WR1 | C. Green (JR) | Carter (rs-FR) | Reams (SR)
WR2 | Smalling (JR) | Davis (SR) | Holmes (SO walkon)
WR3 | McCray (FR) | Sandy (SO) | Stampley (SO)
WDE | Gay (JR) | Shogbonyo (JR) | Mondesir (JR)
DT | Milan (SR) | Woods (JR) | Jackson (JR)
DT | Oliver (SR) | Avery (SO) | Brown (rs-FR)
SDE | Roundtree (JR) | Carney (JR) | Pearl (rs-FR)
WLB | Hansen (JR) | Tolson (SO) | J. Marchese (SR)
MLB | Harding (SR) | Eifler (JR) | Hollins (rs-FR)
Nickel | S. Brown (SO) | Beason (FR) | Knight (JR)
CB | Hobbs (JR) | J. Martin (SO) | Hardge (rs-FR)
SS | B. Williams (JR) | Ware (SO) | DeGroot (JR)
FS | S. Green (SR) | M. Marchese (JR) | Joseph (SO)
CB | Watkins (SR) | Adams (JR) | Wyatt (SO)
Kicker | McCourt (JR) | Griffin (rs-FR)
Punter | Hayes (JR) | McCourt (JR)
Longsnapper | Tabel (JR) | Gaines (rs-FR)
Holder | Hayes (JR) | C. Miller (JR)
Punt Return | Beason (FR) | Sandy (SO)
KO Return | Hobbs/Stampley | D. Brown/Sandy

Some thoughts:

  • This is the easiest bye week next-year depth chart I've ever done. It's basically this: take this year's depth chart, remove Bush, Allegretti, Roberts, Mays, Phillips, and McLaughlin, add in four freshmen plus two of the recent blueshirts (Milo Eifler replacing Del'Shawn Phillips and Caleb Griffin battling for the kicking spot vacated by Chase McLaughlin, and presto, 2019 depth chart.
  • And don't look now, but the bye week next year depth chart a year from now will basically be the same exercise. If we're looking just at the two-deep, the offense in 2020 will replace exactly two seniors from 2019 (Reggie Corbin and Trenard Davis, both who I currently have on the second string), and on defense, of the rotation of 22 guys in the two-deep, 5 will graduate (Milan, Oliver, Harding, S. Green, and Watkins). So this year's exercise was replacing seven guys for next year (when you count Dudek). Next year's exercise is replacing seven guys for 2020. (And then during the bye week in 2020, when sitting down to do this for the 2021 roster, as of right now, we'll be looking to replace something like 24 of the 44).
  • Which makes me pause and say this out loud again. We were basically watching the 2020 offense on Friday night. The 2020 offense playing with Allegretti on the line, Mays and Davis in the receiver rotation, Roberts and Walker rotation as blocking tight ends, and Reggie Corbin splitting carries with Epstein. There are probably several teams that can say "see that offense out there? The 25 guys rotating in and out? We return 19 of those 25 next year." There's probably no team in America that can say "see that offense out there? The 25 guys rotating in and out? We return 19 of those 25 for the next TWO years." I'll probably never stop trying to come up with ways to describe how young the last two Illini teams have been.
  • I'm putting Larry Boyd at right guard to replace Allegretti, but we're a long way from that decision being made. I think we know that Lowe, Palcho, Kramer, and Green all return to their spots. Then it's up to the other 10 scholarship offensive linemen (plus the walkon, Stover) to compete for that one open spot.
  • For now I'm keeping Marquez Beason at nickel, but that's mostly because A) I'm hoping he adds some bulk and can be used as a hybrid do-everything guy, and B) I'm not sure who to bump out if the corner rotation is Watkins-Hobbs-Adams-Martin. Perhaps someone like Martin moves to safety and then Beason plays corner?
  • I saw a thing on Twitter the other day (Rivals national guy, I think) saying that they're considering bumping Fabian McCray up to a 4-star. I loved his film to begin with, and he's having a big senior year, so I went ahead and slid him right into the starting lineup next year. WR will be a wide-open battle, but for now, I'm going with Smalling, Green, and McCray as the top three. (Later to be joined by Marquez Beason and Isaiah Williams shhhhhhhhh).
  • Kicker is a head-to-head spring (and then fall camp) battle between the two guys on scholarship: James McCourt (who will be a junior) and Caleb Griffin (who will be a redshirt freshman). May the best man win.

Overall, this chart presses the reset button again for me. In every instance, for nearly two seasons (since about the midway point of the 2016 season), we're been playing the younger guys for experience. Depth is building, the offense is improving, and pretty much we're watching a JV season before these kids get two years on varsity. That doesn't mean it's going to work (that's what Nebraska was supposedly doing, and.. that's not what happened), but that's the plan. That team from Friday night, more or less on the field together for another 30+ games.

(And then a massive question mark beyond that unless recruiting improves. But we'll get into that another time.)

OK, time to lean into the bye week and think about something other than football for a while. Anything been going on with, say, basketball recruiting?


deadguy on September 23 @ 12:54 PM CDT

I know you're not a fan of C. Washington, but I'm surprised that you don't have Childress in the 3-Deep. Has your opinion soured on him since he committed? I know he doesn't get many opportunities in that offense at Trinity Catholic but he performed well at camps. I'd at least put him ahead of a guy like Stampley or Reams. Cumby could be used all over the place on Offense as well. Also, not to be one of those, but isn't Stampley a JR next year?

This also highlights the need for a possession WR. This is where someone like Massey would have been nice. I would actually move Dorsey out to that 3rd WR spot and let Barker stick at TE, especially if we can't land someone like Rajae Johnson.

I would move Watkins to Nickel since he's stronger than Beason or S. Brown and let Beason rotate at CB with Hobbs and Adams. I would also like to see Beason get some reps at WR.

I'd also like to see M. Marchese add 20 lbs and move to LB. He's just not cut out for S at this level. He's 6'4 and as long as he doesn't lose much mobility after bulking up, he could be a rotational guy at LB.

I'd imagine a number of these guys listed above get Creaned, otherwise this recruiting class is done. I wouldn't expect Reams, Walker, J. Marchese, Solomon or Martin to come back. I know you don't have J. Williams on the 3 Deep and he seems to have fallen out of the rotation so I wouldn't expect him back. I could also see Dre Brown retiring.

It will be interesting to see if some of the Class of 2016 kids who have never played will finally leave, but I'm guessing if they've stuck around this long, they will probably stay since they probably don't have many other options.

The lack of LOS recruits in this class is also alarming. Right now it's just Coleman and he is a massive project.

We need at least 3 OL and after what I've seen so far this year, probably 2 DTs and 1 more DE. I know the numbers give us possibly 7 or 8 more recruits, but I'm guessing that's how we fill out this class with at least 1 prep LB, ideally Cooper, and 1 more non-slot WR since I don't know if Carter can come back by next year.

tubbs81 on September 24 @ 12:45 AM CDT

J Marchese and Walker were just put on scholarship after last season, Lovie is not going to cut them one year later. He wouldve never given them scholarship if that was a possibility to cut them a year later. Plus it gives a slight semblance of class balance to keep them since we have a small Junior class (16 by my count) to begin with. Degroot, Mondesir, Palmer, B. Jones, and Gavin are all more likely to be creaned and they are part of the much larger Sophmore class (32) that we wouldn't be able to replace all in one recruiting class without getting rid of some guys early.

HiggsBoson on September 23 @ 08:23 PM CDT

Yawn. Wake me up when Lovie wins a B1G game or two. I'll consider getting excited when he attains the godlike status of Tim Beckman and gets to a bowl game, even a very minor one.

uofi08 on September 24 @ 09:16 AM CDT

Always love your depth chart posts. A couple thoughts:

  1. I don't see how Beason does not find himself as a starter somewhere. That talent will not be sitting on the bench. If he's not a defensive starter, let him start his career as a WR. He'd easily be a top 2 WR. The kid is a playmaker; he needs to be on the field.
  2. Guessing you just forgot about Oladipo. He should be in the 2-deep at DT.
  3. Random thought, and I don't think this is a common practice, but if Williams doesn't start at QB, I'd love to see him work in some as a slot receiver as well as have a few series dedicated to him at QB.

With my comments about Williams and Beason, those guys are just too good to not be on the field. Playmakers, especially at a program lacking them, need to be on the field as much as possible.

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