Safety Darwyn Kelly - 247Sports.com
The Freshman Orientation series comes to an end with the defensive backs.
Along with offensive line and wide receiver, defensive backs were an important focus in the 2013 recruiting class, and that's why there are so damn many of them to go over. Now, we've already covered Caleb Day and Darius Mosely, but they are only two of the eight defensive backs in this class.
So now it's time for the other six.
Name: Dillan Cazley
Hometown: Charleston, IL
Stars: Rivals 3, 247Sports 2, ESPN 3
There's a wide variety of opinion on Cazley, as ESPN considers him the fifth best player in the class while 247 only gives him two stars. I lean more toward three stars after watching the tape. Cazley needs to put on some weight if he's going to play safety in the Big Ten, but that shouldn't be a problem. You'll also notice in his tape that he played running back and returned kicks in high school, so it wouldn't be a shock to see the early enrollee helping out on special teams in the near future.
Name: Darwyn Kelly
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD
Stars: Rivals 3, 247Sports 3, ESPN 3
Another safety, Darwyn Kelly is somebody I'm quite fond of. He has good size, speed and isn't afraid to come up and lay a hit on somebody. You can also see that, even though he's a safety, he lines up as a corner on some plays during his tape. So he's versatile, and he seems to have a knack for finding the ball. I mean, he's a playmaker from the D.C. area who idolizes Ed Reed, what's not to like?
Name: Eric Finney
Hometown: Corona, CA
Stars: Rivals 2, 247Sports 2, ESPN 3
Finney is one of our juco transfers -- he has three years of eligibility remaining -- and he's slotted to take over for Ashante Williams at the STAR position in 2013. He lined up all over the place last season, which is why he's a good fit for our linebacker/safety hybrid spot. There's nothing about Finney's tape that really leaps out at me, but he is a solid player that should contribute within the system. He seems to have good speed, but it takes him some time to get going full speed and his change of direction speed isn't great. This could be a problem in coverage.
Name: Jaylen Dunlap
Hometown: Glenwood, IL
Stars: Rivals 2, 247Sports 2, ESPN 2
I get why Jaylen Dunlap only received two stars from the services, as he's a player that's not going to be able to contribute without some work. Still, I really like his size as I love tall corners, and if he hits the weights and gets stronger without sacrificing his athleticism, he could find himself starting within a few years. And although he's not that big, he certainly isn't afraid of contact. Look at some of the hits he hands out in the video and try not to like him.
Name: Zane Petty
Hometown: Corning, CA
Stars: Rivals 2, 247Sports 3, ESPN 3
Another juco transfer, the plan is for Zane Petty to step right into the starting lineup at safety next season. Petty has two years of eligibility left and he started his career at Colorado State. After looking at his tape I know two things. One is that once he gets the ball in his hands, he doesn't mess around. The second is that he's good in zone, but I have no idea how he stacks up in man coverage because I just haven't seen him play it. Still, you can tell from the tape that he's good at diagnosing the play in front of him, which could be a nice change of pace from our safeties.
Name: James Crawford
Hometown: Deerfield Beach, FL
Stars: Rivals 2, 247Sports 3, ESPN 2
I'm not a huge fan of Crawford, but I get why the Illini are willing to take a chance on him. He comes from a great high school program in St. Thomas Aquinas, but because of that he didn't get a ton of playing time in high school. So Crawford is one of those players that you take a flyer on and see if you can coach him up and make something out of him. He's big, but he doesn't seem very fast in the tape. I wouldn't be shocked if Crawford ended up at linebacker before his time in Champaign was over.