88 Illlini (Part 9) August 3, 2010
24. Anthony Santella
OK, time for the top 24. Which, give or take a few players, should be the 22 starters plus the kicker and the punter. Poor punter. Nothing to do at practice, sits at the kicker table in the lunchroom, finishes 24th out of 24 on the starters + kickers list. Nobody ever loves the punter. (Well, unless he’s the best player on your entire team *cough*Weatherford*cough*). Santella got a fair amount of punter love his first year, but that was mostly because he wasn’t Yelpin’ Kyle Yelton. His second year, the general consensus was “well, he’s better than Yelton, but not by much.” Third year: “He’s a little better, but still middle-of-the-pack stats-wise”. This fall, it’s time to put it all together. It’s time for those scrimmage bombs and warm-up pitching wedges to start showing up in games. He’s the most experienced punter in the Big Ten, and he has the leg – he should lead the league this fall, no?
23. Glenn Foster
And the winner for 2010 Spring Ball Player Who Switched Positions And Made Everyone Say “Hey This Guy Ain’t Half Bad” is??? Glenn Foster! He switched from defensive end to defensive tackle this spring. And you know what? He wasn’t half bad. Foster and Akeem Spence looked much more game ready than, say, Daryle Ballew and Wisdom Onyegbule. I have to admit to liking Spence a bit more than Foster, but I think Spence is more nose-tackle-light like Corey Liuget, which means Foster, who is more off-tackle-ish as a DT, is likely to start. Is he big enough? Probably not. Is he quick enough to be a disruptive, say, Mike Ware lightweight defensive tackle? Probably. I’m expecting an Ian Thomas-like sophomore campaign from Foster. Lost at times, but shows enough promise to point to future success as an upperclassman.
22. Randall Hunt
My personal Randall Hunt-o-meter:
2006: The Hunt dude who is redshirting – he’s a tackle, right?
2007: The Hunt dude who’s a redshirt freshman – he’s a guard, right?
2008: Get that Block fella out of there – he’s not a pulling guard. Give Hunt a shot.
2009: Get that Hunt fella out of there – he can pull, but I don’t think he can pass protect.
2010: You know if Hunt shows what he showed this spring, he might be one of our better interior linemen.
Can he put it all together? Well, if Eric Block can go from shaky redshirt junior to solid senior, so can Hunt. And we need one of the interior linemen to step up, especially if Hugh Thornton goes back to tackle.
21. Supo Sanni
Ah, Shoop. You look so fluid when you run. And your body type certainly reminds me of the dozens of 2nd Team All Big Ten Safeties we’ve seen at Ohio State the last 15 years. But when you’re on the field, you just seem to, I don’t know, think too much. (Or not think enough, like that time you tackled an Ohio State tailback 7 yards out of bounds.) Special teams? Sure, you’re probably one of our top 4 guys? But at safety? We’re still waiting. Tell you what – go to the film room and watch the full tape of the 2009 Rantoul Scrimmage. See all that flying around you did? Please to be doing that again this fall.
20. Nate Bussey
I guess Part 9 of the 88 Illini is the “guys we hope will finally put it all together” list. Like Hunt, Bussey looked completely lost as an underclassmen, yet showed flashes last year. And with the switch from Will Linebacker to Sam Linebacker, I’m expecting Bussey to fall into the “pleasant surprise” category this fall. In the Koenning system, it appears that the Sam linebacker has some safety responsibilities (more than just covering the tight end), so Bussey, who was our starting free safety against Missouri in 2008, might flourish in the role. I said this to a friend before the spring game, and on Bussey’s very first play, he picked off a Jacob Charest pass. I will now attempt to re-create that luck. “You know, given that he has lots of experience at safety, I think Nate Bussey might flourish as the Sam Linebacker in Koenning’s system.”
19. London Davis
Again stressing the importance of the tight end in Petrino’s system (Petrino’s alleged system, I should say – remember, the man has yet to make one single play call as a college football offensive coordinator), I’m putting London Davis in the top 20. And he’s not even the current starter. Pure guess here, but I think we’ll show twin tight ends many, many times this fall, which means London Davis better keep his hands warm. With a mobile QB like Scheelhaase, I think we’ll see lots of designed rollouts with the tight end underneath. Maybe even two tight ends underneath. The good news: His first ever catch as an Illini was a touchdown against Michigan to ice the game last Halloween. The bad news: It’s his one and only catch as an Illini.
18. Jarred Fayson
Might put it all together as a senior. Mostly left us wanting more last year. Needs to break out in his final season. Blah, blah, blah – 88 Illini Part 9 is a broken record. Player arrives at Illinois. Player shows promise. Player also disappears for several games, causing us to wonder if he’ll ever put it all together. Player reaches senior year. Blogger awaits light bulb turning on. Film at 11.
17. Michael Buchanan
I can’t emphasize enough how strange it is to see Michael Buchanan in uniform. I swear that Bill Cole, in helmet and pads, would look more like a football player than Michael Buchanan. He’s just so, so lanky. But then you watch him in pass rush drills, and you wonder if anyone will be quick enough to prevent him from getting the corner. NFL player comparison? Leonard Little (minus the felony DUI). It will be interesting to see if Buchanan can handle the pass protection duties that will be asked of the Bandit. It will also be interesting to see if he can hold off Nate Palmer.