FJND (Part II) June 22, 2012
Before I get to Freshman. Jersey. Number. Day. part II, a word on the 2013 freshmen. Ohio ATH Caleb Day verballed to Illinois yesterday, giving Tim Beckman two 4-stars in the 2013 class (according to Rivals). Which, if you’re keeping track at home, is more 4-stars than Ron Zook had in the 2010, 2011, and 2012 classes combined.
Ever since the 2009, when not only the season, but the recruiting class fell apart (4-stars like CJ Fiedorowicz and Corey Cooper bailed after our 3-9 season), we’ve brought in exactly one 4-star recruit: QB Chandler Whitmer. Who promptly left for a juco and now UConn. So to have two 4-stars now in the 2013 class is really a great sign about our recruiting resurgence. As we discussed earlier in the week, Ron Zook’s 2008 recruiting class might have been the most talented Big Ten class in the last decade (seriously, someone find me another recruiting class with three first-round picks and three second-round picks), and the 2009 class included current stars like Akeem Spence, Michael Buchanan, Terry Hawthorne, Justin Green, and Nathan Scheelhaase. But since then – specifically, since the 2009 season fell apart – we’ve had exactly one 4-star, and he left after one year.
Now, we add Caleb Day (might be a safety, might be a wide receiver, IS an exceptional athlete), plus Aaron Bailey (top-5 QB recruit in Illini history), and this class is rolling. Add guys like Darius Mosley and Josh Augusta and this will easily be our best class in 4 years. In fact, with the two 4-stars on board, it probably already is.
But that’s next year. Let’s finish off the freshmen numbers for this fall:
Ryan Frain – #13
Jason Reda: #13. Derek Dimke: #13. Our scholarship kicker who arrives this fall: #13. Works for me. Kickers can be any number, really. Matt Eller had a WR number. Chris Richardson was #30. Neil Rackers looked like a defensive lineman in his #98. But this little run of #13′s, I have to say I like it. Come to Illinois, kick with the lucky #13 on your back.
Jevaris Little #11
11 is an interesting choice for a cornerback. For some reason, it feels a little safety-ish to me (or wide receiver, Jarred Fayson-style), but I guess I’m OK with a #11 at cornerback, if you’re looking for my official position.
And I think it fits well with his name. Very linear name, “Little”, so adding two vertical lines beneath it works artistically.
Yes, I think about these things.
Mason Monheim #43
In general, I think of numbers this way. Skill positions get the single digits. Teens are for quarterbacks. 20′s are defensive backs and running backs. 30′s have some running backs and maybe a linebacker or two. 40′s are definitely linebacker, 50′s mostly offensive linemen, 60′s and 70′s the same, 80′s are wide receivers and 90′s are defensive linemen.
So given that structure, I think #43 is just about right for an inside linebacker. J was 47, Brit Miller was 44, BadNews Brown is 45… 43 is a great choice for Monheim.
TJ Neal #52
Of all the numbers to double up (one on offense, one on defense), #52 might be the least likely. But here we are with a #52 on offense (Alex Hill) and now a #52 on defense (TJ Neal).
I probably like the 5-2 on a linebacker better than an offensive lineman. I know our last #52 (Jon Asamoah) was highly successful, so it’s nice that Hill has his jersey, but I still feel like 50′s should be linebackers and such while 60′s and 70′s are offensive linemen.
Joseph Spencer #71
Bold choice, Joe. Jeff Allen trots off to the NFL draft, and you swoop up his jersey number before it’s even cold. I know you’re probably a center, maybe a guard, but 71 is a tackle number in my head. You’ve got some work to do to convince me that it can be a guard number.
Mike Svetina #34
When I was a kid, 34 was a running back number. In 1984, it seemed like every NFL team had their quarterback in the #14, their running back was #32 or #34, and their wide receiver was #81. Those were the Big Four as far as numbers were concerned.
Now, I see a linebacker in the #34 and don’t even blink. Tailbacks have moved to the 20′s, linebackers have invaded the 30′s, dogs and cats living together… it’s a different world now.
Vontrell Williams #97
Speaking of big shoes to fill, Vontrell goes with the Simeon Rice number. There are very few sacred numbers in Illinois football – we’ve only retired two: Grange’s 77 and Butkus’ 50 – and I’d say the next sacred number on that list might be Simeon’s #97. I remember players stayed away from it for a while (wasn’t there a kicker in the early 2000′s that wore #97?), and then Clay Nurse played defensive end in the 9-7, and now a defensive tackle, Vontrell Williams.
It will take some getting used to, seeing the 97 lining up over the center. But if Vontrell busts through and picks up a few sacks, it won’t seem that strange at all. Almost like everything is right in the world.
We also have a few number changes to discuss. Not as exciting as FRESHMAN JERSEY NUMBER DAY, but still fun. If FRESHMAN JERSEY NUMBER DAY is Dick Butkus, upperclassmen number changes are still Scott Studwell.
Glenn Foster – from #47 to #91
Now that’s more like it. Foster arrived as a 3/4 defensive end with the thought that he might play some rush linebacker. I’m not sure if that was the motivation behind Foster picking a linebacker number, but he’s been a defensive tackle in the 47 for the last few years. For his final season, a nice crisp, d-tackle-about-to-mess-up-your-bizness #91. I like it.
Tim Lukas – from #87 to #85
I’d say this is a good sign for junior walk-on receiver Tim Lukas. He had been wearing #87, but early-enrollee freshman Daniel Rhodes arrived and took the #87. Usually it’s OK for a walkon to have a double number, because most of the time, they’re simply on the scout team and not using their number on Saturdays. But if Lukas switched to an open number, that might mean he can find the field this fall. And with freshman WR JJ Robertson not making it into school, and junior WR Anthony Williams getting dismissed from the team, there are probably some reps to be had for a wide receiver. Good luck, Tim.
Matt LaCosse – from #40 to #11
Interesting switch. A tight end wearing #11? I guess this creates another possible special teams issue down the road – LaCosse and Jevaris Little cannot be on the field at the same time. But 11 is infinitely more fun than #40, so I’m guessing the switch will increase LaCosse’s effectiveness by 19%.
Miles Osei – from #16 to #8
I really like this move for Osei. Can you see him working as a slot receiver in the #16? Not really. Can you see it better if he’s #8, motioning into the backfield from the slot and taking a pitch? You can? So can I. I like the move.
Raise your hand if you got my National Anthem joke above. For those of you that enjoy easter eggs (and for big fans of Francis Scott Key, I suppose), I plan to work in Osei Can You See jokes ALL THE TIME this fall. ALL the times.
Jack Ramsey – from #19 to #21
I love Jack Ramsey. Great, polite kid. Rolls with the punches. And he’s been asked to move around A LOT, from QB in high school to WR in college to safety in college back to cornerback in college back to safety in college back to cornerback. And now he’s moving from #19 to #21. There’s always a guy I really want to come through with a big senior send-off season. This year it’s Jack Ramsey.
Earnest Thomas – From #24 to #9
As mentioned in Part I, all of our safeties are moving to single digits, it seems. Hull at 5, Sanni at 7, PNY at 4, freshman Taylor Barton gets Tavon Wilson’s 3, and now Thomas takes Trulon Henry’s 9. Hmmm… thinking ahead, say Brandon Denmark and Darrius Caldwell take over as our rushing ends in 2013. That means we might have #2 (Bentley), #5 (Hull), #6 (Caldwell), #8 (Denmark), and #9 (Thomas) on the field for the defense all at the same time. Plus, I’d imagine one of the freshman defensive backs will get Terry Hawthorne’s 1.
OK, that’s getting ahead of ourselves. 2012 Freshman Jersey Number Day just got here, and I’m already looking forward to next year.