Penn State OT Ryan Nowicki to Illinois? July 24, 2012
A twitter reply I fired off yesterday:
@Knox_Illini_2 I’d guess we’ll fax a list just like every other school is doing. As far as any actual transfers, highly unlikely.
— A Lion Eye (@ALionEye) July 24, 2012
And then his response:
@ALionEye It is still worth a shot. Who knows, the allure of playing time could spark interest.
— Nathan Williams (@Knox_Illini_2) July 24, 2012
Dear @Knox_Illini_2: Good call, buddy. And please disregard “Highly, highly unlikely.” Because tonight, KVS showed me this tweet:
Penn State Redshirt freshman Right Tackle and Cactus product Ryan Nowicki has decided to transfer and is highly likely headed to Illinois
— John Gambadoro (@Gambo620) July 24, 2012
SOLD. Sight unseen, SOLD. We have a grand total of 4 offensive tackles on the roster (most teams have 8 or 9). A redshirt freshman eligible to play immediately? SOLD.
OK, enough of this sight unseen stuff. I’ve decided to live-blog my research on Nowicki. First, off to Rivals.
High 3-star. #31 OT, #9 player in Arizona. Offers from Michigan, Arizona, Penn State, USC, Washington, Arizona State, Boise State, and a dozen others.
YES, PLEASE. OK, now I’m frightened that this isn’t really happening. That this John Gambadoro Arizona radio guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Or, worse yet, that this was in the works behind the scenes, but Gambadoro’s tweet exposed it before the paperwork could be finalized, and now it won’t happen. Yep, that’s what’s going to happen. Offensive tackles with offers from USC and Michigan don’t fall out of the sky and land in Champaign. It just never happens. Nothing can be trusted. OK, fine, maybe it can be trusted. Maybe the 2010′s belong to the Illini. Off to Scout:
3-star, #84 offensive tackle. Visited USC, Washington, Penn State, and Michigan, and picked Penn State.
And now he might pick Illinois. In a year where we have four offensive tackles and need depth. And he’s not a true freshman, so he might be ready to compete sooner rather than later. This is crazy good. To ESPN:
3-star, #60 offensive lineman, #11 player in Arizona, grade of 77. “Has the size and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition”.
This is happening, right? This isn’t some practical joke? WAIT – Is John Gambadoro really a fake twitter profile set up by @Knox_Illini_2 to promote his “how about we fix our OT depth issue with some Penn State players” theory? *does some research* NO. Two different people. A buddy in Arizona says Gambo is legit with good sources. THIS MIGHT BE HAPPENING.
OK, breathe, Robert. Nothing official yet. Here, I’ll just do this. Ryan Nowicki, if he was part of The 90 Illini:
6′-5″, 275 lbs.
rs-Freshman (on scholarship, 4 years to play 4)
Cactus HS / Glendale, Arizona
ALE Ranking last year: #NR
What I Know About Him:
Nothing! I know absolutely nothing. He had some awesome offers, and now he might transfer to Illinois, where we need offensive tackles like Pat Fitzgerald needs to stop saying GOCATS.
What I Expect From Him:
Well, if this does happen, he’s immediately in the competition for a starting spot. We have two sophomores and two freshmen, so a redshirt freshman fits right in. For the next three years, instead of a 4-way competition (which is really a 3-way competition until Pat Flavin adds the neccesary bulk), it’s a 5-way competition. And depth is college football. It just is. Why do I feel great about linebacker for the next 4 years? Because even if Houston Bates doesn’t cut it at linebacker and even if Jonathan Brown leaves early, we have Grimes and Neal and Dickinson and Cooper and Monheim and Svetina for two positions. Three of them can not be cut out for college football and we’ll still be fine. Depth + offer lists + systems = how to find successful college football teams. And special teams. Can’t forget special teams. Ron forgot special teams. That’s why Ron’s not here.
If you ask me who starts against Western Michigan, I’d guess that Heitz and Cvijanovic are still the starters. They learned the system through spring ball, and both played a lot of football last fall. It might take some time for Nowicki to get acclimated, and then he’d have to beat out fellow redshirt freshmen Scott McDowell and Pat Flavin for the backup roles. But worst case scenario is “we have a 5th offensive tackle on the roster”. And best case scenario is “we just added a future multi-year starter at tackle”.
Edit: According to this article, Nowicki is transferring and there’s “a better than 80% chance Nowicki will wind (up) playing this season for the Illini”. We are expected to send coaches to Penn State tomorrow to meet with him AND send coaches to Arizona to meet with his parents.