Sophomore Stanley Green, defensive back for the Illini, benefited in his freshman season from depth issues at safety. Green was able to make the most of his opportunities, though, and played at a superb level in 2016. In a season where he logged 52 tackles and three forced fumbles, Green displayed flashes of brilliance in the ten games he played.
The passing defense will be an integral part of the Illini defense, and Green could be a key part of that unit. Green features great speed on the defensive side of the ball and has a keen sense for spots to attack the ball carrier. Green simply improving on his numbers as a freshman would be a huge asset to this thin defense, and that could cement him as one of the top defensive contributors in the Big Ten.
Green has the ability to be one of the better defensive players this team has seen in recent memory, but will need a lot of hard work and training to reach that plateau. How will he look in 2017 in Coach Lovie Smith's second season? Time will tell.