The 90 Illini #9: Graham Pocic August 23, 2012
6′-7″, 310 lbs.
Senior (on scholarship, 1 year to play 1)
Lemont HS / Lemont, Illinois
ALE Ranking last year: #8
ALE Ranking in 2010: #15
ALE Ranking in 2009: #45
What I Know About Him:
The top 10 is always so difficult. Offensive line was one of our biggest struggles last year, so why wouldn’t Pocic and Thornton be in the top-4 or so? Aren’t they the most important Illini? But this team will likely be carried by the defense – that means defenders should take up nearly all of the top spots? I take this way too seriously.
I still remember the “Pocic = Illini” post on the old Illiniboard back in June of 2007 (yes, I have a special folder in my memory for “where was I when I heard ___ ______ picked the Illini”). A 4-star offensive lineman from in-state with offers from Michigan and Florida and many others picked Illinois. Those were heady days.
It’s been a long journey since then. A redshirt, tried at tackle, tried at guard, and finally emerging in the Spring of 2010 at center. Now, after two solid years at center, he’s on the move, playing both guard and tackle in fall camp. This staff is determined to find an offensive line that works.
What I Expect From Him:
Coach Beckman said after yesterday’s practice that they’ve used Pocic at “all 5 positions” this camp. So it’s really hard to say where he’s going to play. If I had to bet, I’d say they want to put Pocic and Thornton next to each other to create a go-to side of the line. So put me down for Thornton at left tackle with Pocic at left guard.
But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pocic play several positions in the same game. He’s the most experienced offensive lineman on the team (by a fair bit), and they’ve taught him the calls at all five positions, so I could see a scenario where he starts the game at left guard, but then we want to rotate in a guard like Hill or Karras, so Pocic goes to right tackle while Hill or Karras slides in at guard. Is that the best case scenario? No. You want your line to gel playing next to each other for series after series. But with a new line coach, new positions for Pocic and Thornton, and most importantly a new offensive scheme, gelling is not a possibility right now. I think we’re just going to search and search until we find the right combination.