Illinois has not played Indiana in four years. The series returns to Champaign on November 11 this season. IU’s player to dread? Linebacker Tegray Scales.
Scales is a player the Illini have known about for years. Coming out of high school, the Cincinnati native held offers from Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and dozens of other programs. He did not hold an offer from his in-state Ohio State Buckeyes. As good as Ohio State’s defense is, the undersized Scales is definitely one that slipped through the Urban Meyer recruiting cracks.
Fast-forward to Scales’ junior year last season, and the linebacker is not just the top tackler in the Big Ten, but the top tackler in Division I football. Scales led the country in solo tackles and tackles for loss last season. He also had 7.0 sacks.
“Having Tegray back with us is huge. He was a catalyst for our defense”- Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen said in this interview reflecting on Scales’ decision to forgo the opportunity to enter the NFL Draft to stay at Indiana for his senior year.
Four of Indiana’s six wins last year — their four Big Ten victories — were close games, Indiana winning by six points or less in all of them. Scales’ ability to get in quarterbacks’ heads with his tenacious style of play was often the difference between winning and losing.
Indiana ended up losing the game from the GIF above to Wake Forest 33-28, but Scales’ pressure off the edge and the nastiness with which he hits — he was doing that all season last year. Be afraid Illini fans, be very afraid.