The 90 Illini #5: Michael Buchanan August 27, 2012
Defensive End (Leo)
6′-6″, 240 lbs.
Senior (on scholarship, 2 years to play 1)
Homewood-Flossmoor HS / Homewood, Illinois
ALE Ranking last year: #17
ALE Ranking in 2010: #17
What I Know About Him:
I know he was the skinniest defensive end I’d ever seen when he arrived. When Buchanan was a freshman, had you put him in a lineup with all of our wide receivers and asked someone to pick out the defensive end, nobody would pick Buchanan. But he’s added the weight and the muscle over four years (while keeping the speedy feet), and now he’s ready to push this defensive line to be as-good or better than 2011.
I think the Leo position will be very similar to Koenning’s Bandit position. Maybe with a little less dropping into coverage. I still remember the first series against Missouri in 2010 when Buchanan was a first-time starter as a sophomore. Third down, Missouri goes five wide, and… is that Buchanan split out to the slot covering a wide receiver one-on-one? This IS going to be a different kind of defense.
What I Expect From Him:
I’m feeling bold: Lead the Big Ten in sacks. He was fourth last year, and two of the guys in front of him graduated (plus the other is a blitz-happy linebacker, and blitz-happy linebackers usually can’t really sustain their sack totals season to season). I don’t think it’s out of line to think that Buchanan could put up 11 or 12 sacks and lead the Big Ten.
I’m also expecting an active defensive end whose senior frame is much better built for holding the edge on running plays. Mercilus didn’t just lead the nation in sacks last year. He was also #2 nationally in tackles for loss (and #1 in forced fumbles with nine, which was the second highest total of all time. Why wasn’t he Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year again?). We’re going to need Buchanan to make a mess of offensive backfields if we want to replicate our 2011 success.