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Early Look At 2013 Depth Chart November 26, 2012

My friend Carmen sent me an email today. He, too, is an Illini Football junkie. He, too, is already thinking about the 2013 depth chart. So he sent me his ideas, along with this statement:

In reviewing the depth chart, I’m not sure how we can have a spring game. I’m serious. We don’t have four scholarship safeties or CB’s. The depth on this team is embarrassing.

He’s right – I’m not sure how we’ll have a spring game. 3 or 4 of the players on next years defensive secondary two-deep won’t be on campus yet. I don’t think we even have enough walkons to fill the spots. So it’s possible we don’t have a spring game because we won’t have a defensive secondary. THIS… is Illinois Football.

Want to see what I (er, Carmen) means? Here’s my three deep for 2013. True freshmen are in italics (i.e. won’t be here in the spring).

QB: Nathan Scheelhaase (SR) / Reilly O’Toole (JR) / Aaron Bailey (FR)
RB: Donovonn Young (JR) / Josh Ferguson (SO) / Dami Ayoola (SO)
TE: Jon Davis (JR) / Evan Wilson (SR) / Matt LaCosse (JR)
LT: Simon Cvijanovic (JR) / Scott McDowell (rs-SO) / Ryan Nowicki (SO)
LG: Michael Heitz (JR) / Alex Hill (rs-JR) / Chris O’Connor (rs-SO)
C: Jake Feldmeyer (SR) / Tony Durkin (rs-SO) / Joseph Spencer (rs-FR)
RG: Teddy Karras (rs-SO) / Robbie Bain (rs-FR) / Chris Boles (rs-SO)
RT: Corey Lewis (rs-SR) / Pat Flavin (rs-SO) / Shawn Afryl (rs-JR)
WR1: Darius Millines (SR) / Justin Hardee (SO) / Devin Church (rs-FR)
WR2: Spencer Harris (SR) / Martize Barr (JR) / Peter Bonahoom (rs-SO walkon)
WR3: Ryan Lankford (SR) / Miles Osei (SR) / Kenny Knight (SO)

Leo: Darrius Caldwell (rs-SO) / Houston Bates (JR) / John Valentine (rs-SO walkon)
DT: Austin Teitsma (JR) / Vontrell Williams (rs-FR) / Bryce Douglas (FR)
NG: Jake Howe (JR) / Teko Powell (SO) / Merrick Jackson (FR)
DE: Tim Kynard (SR) / Kenny Nelson (rs-SO) / Jarrod Clements (FR)
WLB: Jonathan Brown (SR) / Mike Svetina (SO) / Zeph Grimes (rs-SO)
MLB: Mason Monheim (SO) / Henry Dickinson (rs-SO) / Ralph Cooper (JR)
Star: Earnest Thomas (JR) / BJ Bello (rs-FR) / Joshua Jones (FR)
CB: Eaton Spence (rs-SO) / Jevaris Little (rs-FR) / Dillan Cazley (FR)
SS: Steve Hull (SR) / Taylor Barton (rs-FR) / Nick North (rs-SO)
FS: Zane Petty (JR) / Ben Mathis (SR walkon) / Darwyn Kelly (FR)
CB: V’Angelo Bentley (SO) / Darius Mosely (FR) / Reon Dawson (FR)

K: Nick Immekus (rs-JR) / Taylor Zalewski (rs-SO) / Brennen Van Mieghem (rs-SO)
P: Justin DuVernois (JR) / Brad Janitz (JR) / Garrett Stroup (rs-SO)

A few notes:

+ I’m assuming Akeem Spence leaves early (he graduates in December), and I’m assuming Jonathan Brown returns (injury plagued junior season leaves too much NFL doubt). It would be a huge boost if Spence returned, but I don’t think that’s happening. It would be a huge blow if Brown left, but I don’t think that’s happening, either. And yes, I see the irony in the words “huge blow” for a team that will get to 18 consecutive Big Ten losses before there’s even a chance at a win. But I’m setting that aside today and behaving like this depth chart will matter come August.

+ I’m putting Earnest Thomas at the hybrid “star” position because I really don’t know what to do there. Ashante Williams is now gone and TaJarvis Fuller was kicked off the team. So besides redshirt freshman BJ Bello, we really don’t have anyone to play the position. So I’m guessing Earnest Thomas will be the one playing the star.

+ With Henry Dickinson returning from a broken leg, we should have plenty of depth at linebacker. So I moved Houston Bates to Leo (weakside defensive end). Bates was headed to LSU as a defensive end, but when he switched to Illinois, we moved him to OLB. I’d like to see what he could do plus 20 lbs. at DE.

+ Even with the results of this season, on paper, the 2013 offense looks better than the 2013 defense. Everyone returns on O except for Graham Pocic and Hugh Thornton, while the defense will have huge holes on the line and in the secondary. {Insert “I saw those huge holes in the line in the last 9 games” joke here.}

+ Carmen wasn’t kidding – I’m not sure if we’ll have a spring game. For the five secondary positions (corners, safeties, and Stars), this spring, we’ll have 8 scholarship players (Bentley, Barton, Hull, Little, Spence, North, Thomas, and Bello). We need 10 to even play a spring game. Walkons like Ben Mathis and Austin Abner can fill in at safety. But who is our fourth corner? Bentley, Spence, Little, and?? Walkon Nick Forzley?

Dear prospective secondary recruits: when Tim Beckman is telling you what every coach tells you – that you have a chance to play right away – he really means it.

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20 Comments
drewdierkes November 26th, 2012

I believe Mosley is planning on enrolling early. I’m sure Beckman will try and get several others in early as well.

Illinigrad November 27th, 2012

Robert, Do you think we can win 2 games next year? I am betting on 1 win. I am not sure we can win the spring game. [smile] We are truly are at a level not reached since Moeller.

illiniranger November 27th, 2012

we just finished year 1 of a minimum 5 year swoon.
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i feel really sorry for Mason Monheim, Mike Svetina, Darius Mosley, Aaron Bailey, etc. They will never have a winning season at Illinois.

Lou-a-villini November 27th, 2012

Has an over/under been established for 2013 season ticket sales?

Harry Lime November 27th, 2012

Ranger I don’t exactly have orange-colored glasses on myself, but please explain the 5 year plan. Are you assuming that recruiting under Beckman will be awful?

Groundhogday November 27th, 2012

January enrollees and walkons will fill out the roster for the spring game.

illiniranger November 27th, 2012

Harry, that’s what i am saying. the two top correlates to recruiting success are 1) location and 2) winning. We have some talent in the Midwest; not enough JUST in Illinois but throw in Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, and Ohio and you’re OK. Not great, but OK. but with no track record of success we will not recruit at a high enough level to be competitive when we have to show our credentials next to tOSU, UM, MSU, Wiscy, ND, Iowa, and on, and on, and on.
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what we would have to hope for is that Beckman and Co can “develop” their players a la NIU. That’s sort of a bad analogy though. The delta between a top recruiting class in the MAC and the bottom recruiting class in the MAC isn’t nearly the delta between a top recruiting class in the B1G and the bottom recruiting class in the B1G.
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Essentially everyone in the MAC has the same level of talent mostly 2 stars and a few 3 stars; the differences aren’t that large top to bottom. The difference in tOSU and UM recruiting 18 4 star and above players a year and us recruiting 1-2 4 star players and above a year? that is a HEEEEYYYYYYUUUUUUGGGGGE difference that is extremely difficult to overcome. Even when Zook was recruiting well between 05 and 09 we were still lagging far behind tOSU and UM. it’s not so much in your first round talent (which Zook ID’d and developed) but in your depth. If you have Jeff Allen starting at LT and a lowly ranked and performing RS-FR starting at RT (god bless them) you just aren’t going to be very good.
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That’s why i never got hot and bothered about “Tim Beckman recruited the best classes in the MAC 3 years in a row!!!” That’s an apples to oranges comparison. It’s not to say he can’t recruit at Illinois or that Illinois can never recruit. it is to say if you don’t win, you don’t seem to have the ability to develop your players (seriously, how far did Mike Buke regress this year? how bad was our Oline returning 4 guys with significant minutes? how come we still can’t improve on the worst ST in the FBS?) and you aren’t in the greatest location in the world (FLA, TX, CA) you are screwed for a very long time.

HHSILLINI November 27th, 2012

Robert~Where is Caleb Day? He will be in the three deep on O or on D.

illiniranger November 27th, 2012

we are going to be in the basement for a MINIMUM 5 years. 2 total years of Beckman (at least). 3 total years of some other guy fixing it. That’s 5 years. MINIMUM. this could go on a lot longer if we keep Beckman for 3-4 years and we hire the wrong guy – AGAIN.
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It’s not that we’re Illinois football and we can’t be trusted. It’s that our coaches have stank the joint up since Mackovic was on the sideline. Srsly, tOSU was 6-6 last year. they are 12-0 this year. what changed? Urban Meyer instead of Luke Fickell.

illiniguy November 27th, 2012

I’m pretty sure Ryan Frain will be in the three deep at one of the kicking positions.

illiniftball77 November 27th, 2012

Ranger, you are probably right. However, I see lots of parallels with 2005 this year (meaning 2007 is possible again). Lots of young guys getting experience (Monheim, Svetina, Thomas, E. Spence, Davis, Karras, Cvijanovic, Heitz, etc.). The reason IMO that we showed signs of life in 2006 and were a very good team in 2007 is that guys like Lehman, Miller, Harrison, Mitchell, Chris Norwell, Will Davis, O’Donnell, etc all played as underclassmen on the terrible 2005 team. Many of them weren’t all that highly regarded out of HS, but experience is an equalizer. We added a couple of talented underclassmen (Vontae Davis, Juice, Benn, etc) and it really made a solid team. It is entirely possible that could happen again if Beckman (or even the next guy) can recruit. In 2014, we will likely have a solid linebacker and secondary core, the O-line will have a ton of experience, we will have a highly rated sophomore QB, 3 solid RB, and a stud TE. If we can fill the gaps with JUCO guys or surprise players from the 2013/2014 class we could be competitive in 2014.

Like I say, you are probably right but it isn’t a foregone conclusion IMO that we will be cellar dwellers for 5 years.

gusher November 27th, 2012

I’m not sure we have a spring game no matter how many players are on the depth chart, at least in the “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” kind of way. We’ve reached DEFCON 1 Levels of apathy.

I’m actually more fascinated by the fan who buys season tickets for next season. You know the team is going to lose every single Big Ten game, and probably at least one other non-conference game. Robert, I assume you’re going to buy in next season as well, but it must kill you inside every time we get destroyed. Why are you going to renew?

Luke E November 27th, 2012

Both Cazley and Mosley have stated they will be enrolling early and I think Kelly might be doing the same. We’ll have a spring game. Will anyone want to watch said spring game? That’s a bigger question.

SouthernIllini November 27th, 2012

Can we start talking basketball yet? That team is ranked, undefeated, and looks WORLDS better than last year’s.

WaitingFor2012 November 27th, 2012

Hey Roubert, I know you’re in the middle of your self-imposed three month ban on Fitz bashing (or was it FITZEE bashing?) so I’ll help you out.
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HE CAN’T COACH!!!!
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IT’S ALL EVIL WIZARD JIM PHILLIPS AND HIS SCHEDULING SORCERY!!!
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If you want to update the “who does NU play, anyway?” stats sometime in February, here are the BCS teams Fitz played and beat this year: Syracuse, 7-5: Vandy, 8-4: and BC, 2-10. FITZEE snuck in a win over two teams that beat Illini nemesis Missouri in 2012; Syracuse and Vandy got in a win apiece in Columbia this year.
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Full disclosure: NU also beat South Dakota. I think they’re D-II, just like Charleston Southern.
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In case you want to read more about Jim Phillips and his cherry-picking scheduling habits, here’s a link:
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http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20121117/ISSUE01/311179985/northwestern-sports-root-for-us-too
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“The Wildcat fan base in the area has jumped by nearly 50 percent since 2008 to more than 1 million people, according to New York-based Scarborough Research, which surveys Chicago-area households on whether they have watched, listened to or attended a Northwestern University game.
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The school declined to release specific figures but the estimated $1 million annual marketing push and a concerted effort to reach fans beyond Evanston has led to an 80 percent jump in football season-ticket holders over the last three years”
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“Even with slight increases in season-ticket prices this year, average football attendance is up nearly 50 percent since 2009 to more than 36,000 per game.”
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Don’t worry: I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunity to “Clown the Fitz” as the Beckman era gets rolling. Last Saturday was an aberration.
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:-)

MiniTwerp November 27th, 2012

If we win the Spring Game, will that count as a Big Ten win and break the streak?

Kidding….

FloridaIllini November 27th, 2012

Collect the songbooks on the football season! (old Larry Stewart phrase) Put that thing to bed. Continuing to talk about it is borderline masochistic! Agree with SouthernIllini- Move On!

1IlliniFan November 27th, 2012

Have not checked this blog for awhile as it seems to constantly want to beat a dead horse (football program). I agree with SouthernIlini and talk about winners and future winners (Basketball program). Try not to self inflict aggravation on myself (continually talking about losers (football coach)). It seems none of the ulumni have any nads and do what is necessary to fix the program right away, it is obvious that the school is not (no backbone at all). How they are successful with such a passive attitude is beyond me.

Have talked with a few and they will chip in if there is a change, now, not later when the program is in worse shape. But none of them want to step out there now, for sake of appearances. Some have indeed contacted Thomas but were blown off, my understanding is that he also denied anyone contacted him, that bothers me even more, do not like to be lied to. It is just plain common sense as to what need to be done.

Really enjoy Roberts style of writing, just not this subject. It is after all Basketball season and we are ranked, even 7th at CBS sports (it is their RPI rating) So lets talk about winners. If everyone is this passive (ooh lets give him a few more years, that way it will really be dead) the football program will never ever be winners in my lifetime.

Kudos to Robert and his style of writing and his positiveness. Look forward to a different topic.

Joe John November 27th, 2012

Whats crazy is that the weak area everyone pointed to this year – the offensive line – actually received post season accolades. Hugh Thornton made 2nd team All Conference. Pocic was honorable mention. Both of those guys are gone, although I dont think Pocic is a loss at all.

Still, I think next year’s Illini team will be one of the worst in history. Its usually what happens when you remove the best players from an already awful team.

The only thing that can save this program is dumping Tim Beckman and his entire staff….removing coaches/coordinators would be a disaster because it would totally jumble up recruiting. If Beatty leaves I’d be surprised if Illinois is able to keep the majority of his commits.

Harry Lime November 28th, 2012

Football is a large part of this blog. Deal.