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90i #36: Henry Dickinson July 27, 2013 Comments Off

Henry Dickinson
6′-4″ 215 lbs.
Sophomore (on scholarship, 3 years to play 3)
Memphis University High School / Memphis, Tennessee
Jersey Number: #48

What I Know About Him:

December 30, 2011. I’m at the St. Anthony Foundation in San Francisco as the team is serving lunch at the soup kitchen. Before the team can go in, I’m standing and chatting with head-coach-for-one-game Vic Koenning. I decide to press him for information. “So give me two names that are the future stars of this defense”. His answer: “Darrius Caldwell and Henry Dickinson”. Caldwell, of course, is no longer here – “academic issues” this spring led to “he is no longer with the program”. But Dickinson is the forgotten man.

He played a bit as a true freshman that year (2011), mostly on special teams. Last year he was to maybe challenge for a starting spot, but a broken leg in training camp led to him missing the entire season. Medical redshirt in hand, he now returns as a third year sophomore. He faces a tougher depth chart as he returns. Sophomores Mason Monheim and Mike Svetina played a lot last year, and Jonathan Brown returns from injury, so getting on the field won’t be easy.

What I Expect From Him:

If you’re a loyal ALE reader, you know what I’m about to say: I still want him to bulk up and play Leo.  He’s tall (6′-4″) and has good speed.  If we can add some bulk to his frame, I’d really like to see what he could do as a stand-up defensive end.  Even if we don’t do that, maybe use him in some blitz packages like Vic did with Martez in 2010.  Start the play at MLB, drift to the edge as the quarterback is getting set, blitz like a 3-4 edge linebacker.

He’s probably not bulked up enough for that just yet, so maybe he’ll just be one of a rotation of four linebackers.  Right now I’d guess the rotation will be Bad News Brown and Monheim Steamroller as the starters with Mike Svetina and Henry Dickinson as the backups.  Maybe use Svetina in run situations and Dickinson in pass situations.

Of course, I’m making a big assumption that he’s 100% after his broken leg.  Some players never regain their top-end speed after really bad broken leg.  Here’s hoping that’s not him and we can use him this fall.


90i #37: Miles Osei July 26, 2013 3 Comments

Miles Osei
Wide Receiver
6′-0″ 200 lbs.
Senior (on scholarship, 2 years to play 1)
Prospect High School / Mt. Prospect, Illinois
Jersey Number: #8

What I Know About Him:

When I mention our senior quarterback and all of our senior receivers like Lankford and Hull and Osei, can you see a surprisingly decent passing game? I can. When people say to me “Robert, just give me one thing to be hopeful about for the 2013 season – I just need something”, I usually mention how seniors can sometimes surprise.  Average careers for three years, and then, as a senior, a Nate Bussey or a Ryan Palmer season.  A “where did THAT come from?” season.  We only have eleven seniors this fall, and four of the eleven will be involved in our passing game.  Hopefully, Scheelhaase, Hull, Lankford, and Osei will leave us with “where did THAT come from?” this year.

Osei arrived as a quarterback, having flipped from Northern Illinois to Illinois right before signing day.  And we needed him right away.  His freshman year, after Jacob Charest left and Chandler Whitmer redshirted before transferring, Osei was the only backup quarterback we had.  And I believe he had to enter a game (Michigan State, I think?) after Nate was dinged up.

He was also a backup QB as a sophomore, and last year he played a fair bit at QB in the Arizona State game because Scheelhaase was sitting with an injury.  Once Scheelhaase returned, and with Reilly O’Toole holding down the backup QB job, Osei switched to wide receiver full time.

What I Expect From Him:

This offense will ask the receivers to find spots in the zone and settle down.  And I think Osei can do that.  I’m not expecting a huge season with 50 catches or anything, but I think Osei can become a reliable target at WR.

Where he needs work is blocking (where all of our wide receivers need work is blocking).  As a high school quarterback (and a college quarterback for 2+ seasons), let’s just say he hasn’t learned much about blocking over the years.  But the wide receivers are just extra offensive linemen during running plays, so Osei’s ability to block might determine how much he plays.

I feel like I need to go on the record with a predicted number of catches.  Miles Osei, in 2013, will catch… 27 passes.  Set the Vegas over/under.


Looks Like University Of Illinois – Tyree Stone-Davis 3 Comments

(I have about 12 minutes to write a post about our new cornerback recruit. In my never-ending pursuit of efficient blogging, I will simply utilize another post I’ve written – say, the post I wrote about his identical twin brother – and cut a few corners.)

Meet Tyrin Tyree Stone-Davis. Or, as he will probably be known here and everywhere else for the next few seasons, TSD TSD2. I mean, seriously, we always abbreviate our players with hyphenated last names. Patrick Nixon-Youman was PNY. I even remember calling George McDonald-Ashford GMA. It’s just how we do. So meet TSD TSD2.

TSD TSD2 is a 3-star recruit on Rivals (5.6), a 4-star 2-star recruit on 24/7 Scout, and un-evaluated by ESPN and Scout 24/7. He had offers from San Diego State and Texas Tech State and Hawaii and San Diego State.

You’ve heard me discuss TSD TSD2 before. Well, kind of. This spring we landed a teammate of his – Trevor Kanteman – who will play tight end/h-back for us starting this fall. When discussing Kanteman, I said this:

Our coaches were at Pierce looking at another player just a month ago, saw (Kanteman) working out, offered him, and now he’s supposed to be on the roster this fall as a freshman (he never played at the Juco, so he transfers as a freshman with four years of eligibility).

That “other player”? Tyrin (or Tyree) Stone-Davis. I love it when a plan comes together.

Other things you need to know about TSD TSD2: he’s an identical twin. He and his brother Tyree Tyrin played high school football in Philadelphia at Jules Mastbaum Technical High School (here’s a fun article about Tyrin and Tyree back in high school). They had some college interest (the article mentions Temple and Rutgers), but both wound up at Pierce Community College in Los Angeles (if you want a shot at D-1 some day, you go to juco in California).

Tyree Tyrin is on the roster at Pierce as well, and we’ve offered him as a cornerback wide receiver, as has Hawaii, San Diego State, Texas State Tech, and others. Wait, what happens if we have TWO TSD’s? Better question: what happens if TSD2 TSD1 goes to Texas State and brother covers brother when we play them in 2014? These are all good questions I’m asking.

Film review: love really like it. Go to his Hudl page (thanks Ian me) and check out his highlights from last year. For a guy listed at 6′-3″, he’s very, very fluid. His speed is a bit deceiving here – they might be juco kids, but some of those cornerbacks wide receivers he’s blowing past covering aren’t the best competition. Still, very impressive tape. I can see why the folks at 24/7 Rivals gave him four three stars and a rating of 91 5.6 after seeing that film.

Why didn’t he have bigger offers? Well, most top-end programs stay away from most all juco kids. They see their scholarships as precious, and they’d much rather offer a kid they can develop for four or five years than offer a kid they’ll only have for two. As such, a lot of the big-time programs wait until after junior college kids have finished their sophomore years before deciding whether they’re worth an offer. Their loss, our gain (er, kind of – I’d still swap places with them in a millisecond).

Because of that, when a kid looks this good on film, I’m a little bit concerned that he’ll get more offers during the fall and maybe re-evaluate his position. But I’m an Illinois football fan – I’m always worried about that. Comes with the territory.

OK, so Tom Cruises. Wes Lunt got 4.5 Tom Cruises, but he’s a 4-star quarterback who started at Oklahoma State as a freshman and then transferred to Illinois. Next highest recruit on ALE in this class is Matt Domer TSD1, who I gave 3.5 stars. And I really liked Domer TSD1. Do I rank TSD TSD2 higher than Domer TSD1? Nah, can’t do it. I’m excited about both and can’t wait to see him join Lunt and Bailey Mosely and Day.

3.5 3 Tom Cruises it is. Get an offer from Oregon this fall, consider it, but turn them down to enroll at Illinois and I’ll give you four three point five.



90i #38: Darius Mosely 1 Comment

Darius Mosely
5′-11″ 185 lbs.
True Freshman (on scholarship, 5 years to play 4)
O’Fallon Township High School / O’Fallon, Illinois
Jersey Number: #24

What I Know About Him:

There’s always one player I chicken out on.  This year it’s Mosely.  When I originally made this list, I had him at something like #25.  I was all set to declare that he’d be our punt returner, kickoff returner, and third (slot) cornerback, all as a true freshman.  But as I thought about it, I realized he’s just as likely to redshirt as he is to play that much, so I dropped him into the 40′s.  THEN I realized that was too low, so I moved him back up here to #38.  Aren’t you glad I told this story?

Mosely was a really solid recruit in this class.  A high three-star on three of the rankings and a four-star on ESPN.  I was completely convinced he was going to pick Vanderbilt last June and was pleasantly surprised to hear he picked Illinois.  Actually, to tell the specifics of that story, the day he committed I read somewhere that Mosely had just followed James Franklin and all of the Vandy coaches on Twitter that morning.  So I gave up thinking he’d pick us.  My wife and I had our kayaks out on a river in the middle of nowhere, and when we went under a highway bridge, I found just enough signal to check to see which school he picked.  Did a little dance in my kayak when I saw it was Illinois.  Aren’t you glad I told this story?

What I Expect From Him:

It’s not too much pressure to ask for Eugene Wilson’s freshman year, is it?  Solid play at corner, punt returns, etc.  I’m not sure if Mosely wins the punt return job (and, as an Illinois fan, I’m not sure there will be a single chance to return a punt once he catches it), but I’d really like to see him get a serious look.  He was great as a wide receiver in high school, too – more than 1,100 yards – but we need him most at corner.  But I would like to see him get the ball in his hands as a punt returner and a kickoff returner.

As for cornerback, the starting spots are still wide open.  Eaton Spence and V’Angelo Bentley will both get the longest looks there, as they were the two backups who played last year, but guys like Mosely have a serious chance of winning one of the spots.  Mosely also has an advantage in that he enrolled back in January and went through spring ball, so if he wants to put pressure on Spence and Bentley, that’s fine by me.  Competition like that makes a football team better.


90i #39: Matt LaCosse July 24, 2013 1 Comment

Matt LaCosse
Tight End
6′-6″, 240 lbs.
Junior (on scholarship, 3 years to play 2)
Naperville North High School / Naperville, Illinois
Jersey Number: #11

What I Know About Him:

This should be the year where we start to see progress from LaCosse. He was a quarterback in high school, but wasn’t recruited by anyone as a QB. He was listed as an ATH, which is short for “big and strong and fast”. You can find spots on the field for athletic guys who are really fast for their size.

He was originally committed to Minnesota, but flipped to Illinois after a December visit. The way I remember it, it was almost a trade. We lost Tyler Marcordes to Georgia Tech but stole Matt LaCosse from Minnesota, all within a week. Marcordes was that same kind of “ATH” type – he’s now an outside linebacker at Georgia Tech. And LaCosse is a tight end at Illinois.

I remember a play in Rantoul back in 2011 that showed his athleticism. Seam route, well thrown ball, he used his 6′-6″ frame to out-jump everyone and pull in a 25 yard gain. Unfortunately, playing tight end is a lot more than out-jumping everyone for a seam route. It’s blocking and route running and blocking and out-jumping and blocking. For two years, LaCosse has been a work in progress.

What I Expect From Him:

It will be interesting to see how Bill Cubit uses his tight ends. No, really. Seriously – some coaches say “we want to get the ball to our tight ends” and then actually do just that. Well, I think so. I’ve heard about it. My grandfather told me stories.

As you saw in the spring game, some of the time our tight ends were lined up in the backfield like a fullback. Well, “tight end”. LaCosse and Jon Davis were both held out of the spring game with injuries, so Evan Wilson was lining up as a fullback for some formations. I’m not sure how much of that we will see, but I’d be willing to bet the tight ends will be used on the end of the line, and offset like an H-back, and in the backfield like a fullback.

Of all the possible places we’ll use him, I think LaCosse is best suited as a pass catching tight end. Put him on the end of the line, give him a seam route, and watch him go get the ball. If he can improve his blocking, he can play a lot more. But his blocking the first two years can best be described as “high school quarterback learning to block”. Now, as an upperclassman, it’s time for him to take a big step forward.