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2017 Illinois Football Player Reviews: Defensive Line

We continue our review of the 2017 Illini today with a look at the DL.

Nebraska v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We continue our series where we will review the performance of each Illinois player and see what might be in store for the Illini’s future.

Today we move to defense and take a look at another very young posistion in the defensive line. This unit struggled throughout Big Ten play, and Illinois will need more out of them going forward. Illinois will have to do it after losing the two best players on the line— James Crawford (graduation) and Tito Odeninbo (transfer).


James Crawford

James Crawford Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
9 26 16 10 5.5 4 4 3 2

James Crawford had a breakout year in his senior season. The former linebacker — and before that defensive back — moved to DL and his speed on the edge allowed Crawford to get pressure as an edge rusher on his way to leading the team in tackles for loss with 5.5. He was also tied for the team lead in sacks with four and in forced fumbles with three.

I wish this breakout would have come in his junior season, but some players don’t have convenient timelines for their teams.

Crawford has a chance to get a look as an undrafted free agent in the NFL. His versatility could be useful in the NFL, and I could imagine he finds a spot on a practice squad in the right situation.

Sean Adesanya

Sean Adesanya Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
7 10 7 3 1 1 0 0 0

Adesanya saw his first action for Illinois in his junior year. He started the first game of the year against Ball State and appeared in seven others. I expected a little more form Adesanya, but didn’t see it. He played sparingly in 2017. Expect the same in 2018.

Kevin Hinders

Kevin Hinders was redshirted in 2017. He is the only local product on the Illinois roster. He walked onto the team after graduating from St. Thomas Moore in Champaign.

Kendrick Green

Green took a redshirt this year. He had a decent list of offers as a recruit, and should find a spot in the defensive line rotation next season.

Jamal Milan

Jamal Milan Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
10 23 11 12 1.5 1 0 0 2

Jamal Milan had a ok year for Illinois highlighted by his blocked field goal in the final seconds to seal the win against Ball State in week one. He has two years left with the team and I think he should take an even bigger role next year, especially with Tito Odenigbo leaving the team.

Lere Oladipo

Oladipo was a top 40 defensive end recruit who took a redshirt in 2017. He’ll be a guy to look out for next year.

Jamal Woods

Jamal Woods Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
11 24 12 12 3.5 0 0 0 0

Woods was one of the three true freshman to see game time for Illinois this season on the defensive line. Woods had a great game against Indiana with 2.5 tackles for a loss, and Illinois will hope he can continue to develop his ability to reck havoc in the opposing backfield.

Isaiah Gay

Isaiah Gay Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
12 20 12 8 4 1 0 0 0

It was a really good start for Gay in his true freshman season. Gay’s athleticism was impressive in the non-conference schedule, but his was ineffective in Big Ten play largely due to his size. Gay is only listed at 215 pounds. Get this guy on the Mike Tisdale diet.

Tito Odenigbo

Tito Odenigbo Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
10 20 10 19 4.5 2 2 0 0

Odenigbo was a solid player all year for the Illini. He made some big plays for Illinois and was one of the more consistent defensive linemen for Illinois.

Sadly for Illinois Odenigbo choose to transfer for his final year of eligibility. He was be able to play immediately as a 5th year transfer.

Kenyon Jackson

Kenyon Jackson Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
11 22 7 15 2 1.5 0 0 0

After Jackson worked his way into the starting lineup as a freshman in 2016, I thought we would see a big step forward from Jackson. It didn’t come for Jackson in his sophomore year. Could it come for him in his junior season?

Tymir Oliver

Tymir Oliver Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
12 33 19 14 4.5 3 2 0 0

Oliver was a surprise contributor for Illinois. He started ten games at DT and was tied for second on the team with 4.5 tackles for a loss. I’m excited to see what he brings to the field with another offseason to improve.

Bobby Roundtree

Bobby Roundtree Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
12 50 28 22 4 4 3 1 0

Oh baby, could Bobby Roundtree be really good. Roundtree was named to BTN’s All-Freshman team. He was the first Illini true freshman defensive end to start a game since 1980.

He was the best pass rusher as a freshman for a young Illinois defense, and Illinois will be counting on him to become a key piece of a young defense.

Deon Pate

Deon Pate took a redshirt this season. He had 32 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks as a senior in High School in Florida.

Owen Carney Jr.

Owen Carney Jr Defense 2017

Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
Games Played Tackles UA A TFL Sacks PD FF FR
12 6 4 2 0 0 0 0 0

Owen Carney Jr. had a very impressive offer list which included LSU, Florida State, Tennessee, and Louisville among others, but chose to come to Illinois. He saw the field sparingly in his true freshman season. He has potential to become a starter for Illinois.