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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Illinois
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  07/08/20 - Josh ImatorbhebherSr/2021, Illinois, 6-1, 215 (DS#23 WR) + More +

  Every time I have talked to Josh Imatorbhebhe in the last year, I get smarter. Illinois football's star receiver is thoughtful and insightful. He has seen college sports from multiple angles. So, it was no surprise to me last week when the 22-year-old Imatorbhebhe went to Twitter with his idea to have an NCAA Players Association. "We have absolutely no representation when it comes to decision making," Imatorbhebhe wrote. Of course, the reaction was swift. Some of it positive and encouraging, suggesting Imatorbhebhe lead the way. "Band together! Start one. You absolutely need a voice in all of this," one post read. "Y'all are speaking out and I love it. Do what you gotta do and we got your back!" tweeted another.

Other comments were negative. "Don't play bro, nobody is forcing you to get a free education and exposure. Walk away, get a better deal," one wrote. "Quit whining. You have it better then 90% of the people in the world, AND after college, if you take it seriously, you will have a great career with alumni always willing to help. You live in a bubble and have no clue," tweeted another. - News Gazette Tribune


(DS#23 WR) rSr/2021 WR Josh ImatorbhebheIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  06/29/20 - Brandon PetersrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-4, 230 (DS#11 QB) + More +

  Illinois football head strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez gave a list of players who looked impressive early on as the team returns for voluntary workouts. Hernandez mentioned linebackers Jake Hansen and Khalan Tolson, wide receiver Donny Navarro, tight end Luke Ford, punter Blake Hayes, defensive lineman Jamal Woods, offensive linemen Alex Palczewski and Vederian Lowe and Peters as players who have been particularly impressive early on voluntary workouts.

"Watching him run, he looks absolutely incredible," Hernandez said of Peters. "He's got his big, long stride and he's taking people down with it and winning races. There's a competitiveness. He's definitely put the work in to help showcase some of his athleticism. "He's definitely standing out right now as a guy who continued to lift, continued to run and continued to work on his overall performance. I think that right there shows a lot to this football team how important it is for our quarterback to get it done and hopefully it's going to continue to spread throughout the remainder of our guys as well." 'Helping other people is more important than ever.' Lovie Smith's Illinois staff has 8 black coaches - more than any FBS program. Can it be an example that helps close the racial disparity in college football? Peters, who hasn't been made available to the media since the Redbox Bowl loss to California, threw for 1884 yards and 18 touchdowns to go with eight interceptions last season while rushing for 213 yards and three touchdowns. - Herald-Review Times


(DS#11 QB) rSr/2021 QB Brandon PetersIllinois
News Source: Herald-Review Times
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  06/28/20 - Dre BrownrSr/2020, Illinois, 5-11, 208 (DS#91 RB) + More +

  Dre Brown has had quite the 2020. And it's not even halfway over. The Illinois football team's most outstanding offensive player during the 2019 season spent the first two months of the year training in Naperville, getting his 5-foot-11, 210-pound frame ready for the rigors of NFL draft prep. He then had a solid pro day in Champaign on March 9 at the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility, boosting his hope he could wind up on some NFL teams' radars. A potential late-round draft pick or an undrafted free agent once the draft concluded seemed feasible. Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit. Stifling almost all of Brown's opportunities to impress teams in person during the weeks leading up to the NFL draft.

"I knew I needed to get in front of coaches and shake their hands," Brown said. "That character piece of mine would have helped me out in the process. "It was tough because I was banking on either signing as an undrafted free agent or get a mini-camp invite. Without that, it's kind of hard to put a close to this chapter in my life. I never really got a chance. That was probably the hardest part." Brown's dreams to suit up for a pro football team this spring and summer never came to fruition. He's staying in shape, though, just in case an opportunity presents itself later this summer. - News Gazette Tribune


(DS#91 RB) rSr/2020 RB Dre BrownIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  06/25/20 - Calvin AveryJr/2022, Illinois, 6-2, 330 (DS#25 DT) + More +

  Avery arrived at Illinois with serious expectations as a consensus four-star recruit, but the 6-foot-2, 330-pound defensive tackle has managed just spot duty in the rotation the past two seasons. With the graduation of Jamal Milan, Tymir Oliver and Kenyon Jackson, the Illini need serious help at tackle. - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#25 DT) Jr/2022 DT Calvin AveryIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  05/28/20 - Jake HansenSr/2021, Illinois, 6-0, 230 (DS#13 OLB) + More +

  The Illinois football team can start returning to campus in less than a week. The first wave of athletes is scheduled to arrive June 3. While there was some initial excitement that a plan was in place to return a bit of normalcy to their summer, some of the Illini leaders are taking a measured approach to their eventual return. Jake Hansen's concerns don't lie with the uncertain nature of the coronavirus. The redshirt senior linebacker has more questions about what the voluntary workouts and training sessions will be with the team back on campus. "Am I going to be able to get the quality work in that I would be able to usually get during this time in the summer?" Hansen said. "If not, then I'd like to be at home where I could work out in my personal gym and do things where I know I'm going to be able to get the right amount of work and the quality of work I want to get in. If we are able to do that at Illinois, then by all means I'm going to be at Illinois as soon as possible. I think that's what it sounds like we're going to be able to do." Every student-athlete will be tested for COVID-19 upon their return to campus, quarantined alone for a brief period of time in a residence hall and tested again before they're allowed to return to their own campus residence and start working out. - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#13 OLB) Sr/2021 OLB Jake HansenIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  05/25/20 - Doug KramerrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-2, 300 (DS#9 C) + More +

  Even with Brandon Peters and Josh Imatorbhebhe, the unit won't run well without solid work from the offensive line. The guy that keeps it together is center Doug Kramer. Hurt late in the season, Kramer was missed in the bowl game. Kramer is crucial not only for his physical ability, but also his leadership. He was not a highly-touted recruit when he signed with Bill Cubit in early 2016, but he was on my first-team All-Big Ten ballot after 2019 and I suspect he will be again after this season. - The News-Gazette

(DS#9 C) rSr/2021 C Doug KramerIllinois
News Source: The News-Gazette
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  05/16/20 - Chinedu UdeogurSr/2021, Illinois, 6-3, 265 (DS#999 DE) + More +

  Chinedu Udeogu arrived at Cal for the 2016 season as a three-star defensive end before redshirting as a true freshman. Udeogu stuck at defensive end in 2017, but shifted to a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role in the Golden Bears' 3-4 defense in 2018. An injury in the second game of the 2019 season ultimately saw Udeogu return as a tight end, where he repped again this spring before practices were canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Udeogu is transferring to Illinois. As a defensive tackle. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Inverness native, who played his high school ball at Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, Md., announced his commitment to Illinois on Saturday.

"I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to be graduating from the University of California Berkeley with a (bachelor's) in Business Administration!" Udeogu wrote in a note posted to Twitter. "Along with the opportunity to represent Cal these last four years on the football field. After missing last season due to injury, I'm excited to announce that I'll be continuing my athletic and academic journey at the University of Illinois receiving a (master's) of science in economics." Udeogu had a role in Cal's defensive line rotation his first two seasons on the field. He appeared in all 25 games in 2017 and 2018 combined and finished with 19 tackles in those two seasons. He had one tackle in 2019 before his injury. - News Gazette Tribune


(DS#999 DE) rSr/2021 DE Chinedu UdeoguIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  05/16/20 - Chinedu UdeogurSr/2021, Illinois, 6-3, 265 (DS#999 DE) + More +

  In a homecoming move, Cal redshirt senior Chinedu Udeogu has announced via Twitter that he will transfer to Illinois to complete his final year of football eligibility. Udeogu, who was born in Inverness, Illinois, will be a graduate student next fall, meaning the NCAA will allow him to play immediately as opposed to sitting out a year. At Cal, Udeogu spent most of his time at linebacker before being converted to a full-time tight end this spring. According to his Twitter post, though, he will be moving back to the other side of the ball as a defensive tackle with the Illini. In his career thus far, Udeogu appeared in 27 games for the Bears, compiling a total of 20 tackles. Off the field, he completed his bachelor's degree in business administration at UC Berkeley, and will work toward a Master of Science in economics at the University of Illinois. - Daily Californian

(DS#999 DE) rSr/2021 DE Chinedu UdeoguIllinois
News Source: Daily Californian
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  05/14/20 - TreSean SmithSr/2021, Illinois, 6-0, 202 (DS#999 FS) + More +

  Illinois football has come to rely on the transfer portal as much as high school recruiting when building its roster. The Illini relied on both Thursday, with Louisville graduate transfer TreSean Smith committing just more than an hour after 2021 recruit Trevor Moffitt. Smith was suspended before the 2019 season at Louisville by first-year coach Scott Satterfield, and that suspension extended through the entirety of the season. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound safety, who arrived at Louisville as a four-star, top 300 recruit per 247Sports, had played a fairly significant role in his first two seasons with the Cardinals under Bobby Petrino. Smith played in all 13 games as a true freshman and finished with 34 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions and one sack. The Hamilton, Ohio, native then played in 12 games in 2018 as a sophomore and put up 36 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass deflection. - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#999 FS) Sr/2021 FS TreSean SmithIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  04/28/20 - Brian HightowerJr/2022, Illinois, 6-2, 210 (DS#999 WR) + More +

  Brian Hightower saw limited action in his first two football seasons at Miami. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide receiver was behind the likes of K.J. Osborn and Jeff Thomas - among several others - on the Hurricanes' depth chart the past two seasons, creating few opportunities on the field. Hightower could see those opportunities blossom at Illinois. The Leimert Park, Calif., native committed to the Illini on Tuesday afternoon, announcing his decision via his Twitter account.

"I've been in the dark but I promise you'll see a brighter me," Hightower wrote above a photo of him in an Illinois uniform, along with the word committed in the background. After sitting out the 2020 season save for a possible change to NCAA transfer rules, Hightower will be in place for the 2021 season that will see Illinois lose Josh Imatorbhebhe, Ricky Smalling and Trevon Sidney from its wide receiver corps. Hightower is the third transfer to join the Illini this offseason after New Mexico State receiver Desmond "Drew" Dan Jr. announced he was transferring on April 9 and Wofford offensive lineman Blake Jerestay announced he was doing the same on April 11. - News Gazette Tribune


(DS#999 WR) Jr/2022 WR Brian HightowerIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  04/28/20 - Oluwole Betiku JrJr/2020, Illinois, 6-3, 249 (DS#24 OLB) + More +

  Oluwole Betiku Jr. went seven rounds without hearing his named called during last week's NFL draft. Then Saturday night and all of Sunday and Monday passed without the former Illinois defensive end landing as an undrafted free agent with one of the 32 NFL teams. Betiku got the chance he was looking for Tuesday when the New York Giants announced they had signed the 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end and nine other rookie free agents. Betiku is the first former Illini to sign following the 2020 draft. - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#24 OLB) Jr/2020 OLB Oluwole Betiku JrIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  04/22/20 - Blake JeresatySr/2021, Illinois, 6-1, 290 (DS#30 C) + More +

  Blake Jeresaty believes in risks - in challenging himself to take a less comfortable path in the interest of personal growth. He could have returned to Wofford, an FCS school, for his redshirt senior season and continued to be not only one of the best centers in the Southern Conference, but all of the FCS - he was an All-American last season. He also could have fallen into a level of complacency without really testing his own boundaries as a football player. Jeresaty, a 6-foot-2, 290-pounder, knew he could play football at a high level, but was lightly recruited out of Bishop England High School in Charleston, S.C. because he was undersized. Wofford took a chance on him and he developed into a top-tier center. In a November game against Clemson - yes, that Clemson - the idea that he could play against anyone started to take root in his mind.

He didn't falter against a perennial national championship contender and held his own like he did in every other FCS game in which he played. But there's not time time to contemplate every play over the course of a season. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and stopped athletics in their tracks, Jeresaty had time to let that game fester. Eventually, he elected to enter the transfer portal, where in the back of his mind he knew he wanted to play at a Power Five program, and those programs came calling. For seven days he remained uncommitted in the portal before pledging to join the Illinois football team as a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility remaining and eyes on an open right guard spot to fill out an experienced offensive line. He's the third graduate transfer of the offseason to verbally commit to Illinois. - Herald-Review Times


(DS#30 C) Sr/2021 C Blake JeresatyIllinois
News Source: Herald-Review Times
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  04/12/20 - Drew DanrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-2, 190 (DS#999 WR) + More +

  In the world of college recruiting, Checotah, Okla., isn't necessarily a priority stop for coaches, and Desmond Dan saw it first hand. The town of 3,700 people is located in the eastern part of the state off of Interstate 40, easier to miss than to find. There's three stoplights in town, and Dan says two of them are new. It's most famously known for being the hometown of country music megastar Carrier Underwood, not for being a recruiting hotbed. Dan had a good career at Checotah High School and turned in back-to-back seasons of more than 1,000 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns, but was a lightly recruited two-star receiver. He knew he was destined to play major college football, but like so many in his town before him, he wasn't easy to find.

"It's one of those things that coming from a small school, you tend to get overlooked," Dan said. "We had a lot of talent get overlooked coming out of my town. I knew I had to do whatever it took to get my name out there." He landed at New Mexico State where he had a solid career before suffering a season-ending broken ulna this past year, just three games into his redshirt junior season. After recording 48 catches for 582 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons, he entered the transfer portal as an immediately eligible graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility remaining - provided Dan's confidence in receiving a medical hardship waiver for his lost season pays off. - Herald-Review


(DS#999 WR) rSr/2021 WR Drew DanIllinois
News Source: Herald-Review
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  04/11/20 - Blake JeresatySr/2021, Illinois, 6-1, 290 (DS#30 C) + More +

  Offensive line depth has been a persistent issued during Lovie Smith's tenure as Illinois football coach. The Illini partially addressed that by adding three prep linemen in their 2020 class. Saturday's commitment from Wofford transfer Blake Jeresaty will also more immediate help to Illinois' depth up front as a graduate transfer. The Charleston, S.C., native started the last two seasons for the Terriers, an FCS program, and earned All-American honors in 2019.

Jeresaty played in 35 total games in three seasons at Wofford after redshirting as a true freshman in 2016. The 6-foot-2, 290-pound lineman made all 28 of his career starts at center. Jeresaty is the second transfer addition this week after Illinois also received a commitment from New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond Dan Jr. on Thursday. The Illini added another graduate transfer in early March in Wisconsin linebacker Christian Bell, who will likely shift to defensive end for Smith. - News Gazette Tribune


(DS#30 C) Sr/2021 C Blake JeresatyIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  04/09/20 - Drew DanrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-2, 190 (DS#999 WR) + More +

  Illinois football went all in on the transfer portal last offseason, adding what would turn out to be several key contributors in its bowl season. The Illini added another graduate transfer Thursday night at a position of need with a commitment from New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond "Drew" Dan Jr. - Desmond Dan Jr. (@drewdan11) April 10, 2020 Dan spent the past four seasons in Las Cruces, N.M., but he used a medical redshirt in 2016 and played in just three games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury. Dan is expected to graduate in May and could potentially have two seasons of eligibility remaining if he's granted a medical hardship waiver for missing the bulk of last season. Dan was ranked as a two-star recruit out of Checota (Okla.) High School. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound receiver chose the Aggies over other offers from Air Force, Army, Navy and Wyoming. Dan played in 26 career games at New Mexico State and caught 48 passes for 582 yards and three touchdowns in his two healthy seasons. - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#999 WR) rSr/2021 WR Drew DanIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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