To see all previous roster breakdowns, click here.
After finishing up offense last week, it’s time to take a look at the Illinois Specialist for 2017.
Ethan Tabel - #56, R-FR, 6’ 0’, 220 lbs, Barrington, Ill.
Tabel is one of two long snappers for Illinois that will be competing to replace Champaign, Illinois own Michael Martin, who was in the role for the last three seasons.
Sean Mills - #58, R-FR, 6’ 3”, 215 lbs, Metuchen, N.J.
Mills and Table will compete to win the job over Tabel, and whoever wins this battle will probably keep the job for the Illini for the next few years.
James McCourt - #17, R-Fr, 6’ 1”, 215 lbs, Parkland, Fla.
McCourt was redshirted last season. The former three star recruit came to Illinois from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida, which is one of the best programs in the state of Florida and the country. He will likely play backup to Chase McLaughlin, but he will be Illinois main kicker in the future.
Chase McLaughlin - #43, JR, 6’ 1”, 175 lbs
McLaughlin was the starting kicker for Illinois last year and also handled kickoff duties. He went 12-17 overall in field goals with a long of 53 yards. He was a perfect 26-26 on PATs. He has the range to hit from 50 plus, and should handle kicking duties again all year for Illinois.
Blake Hayes - #14, FR, 6’ 6” 230 lbs, Melbourne, Australia
Hayes was a late addition to the 2017 recruiting class. He played Aussie Rules Football in High School, but hasn’t played American Football competitively yet. Without any punters with game expereince on the roster, Hayes could still be the favorite to win the job. He will look to join the new group of very successful international punters.
Bryce Baringer - #37, FR, 6’ 3”, 190 lbs, Waterford, Mich.
Baringer played golf, soccer, and basketball in high school, as well as football. He began punting in his Junior season of High School at Notre Dame Prep in Michigan.
Ryan Tucker- #40, JR, 6’ 3”, 200 lbs
Tucker has not played for Illinois yet, but is the only punter on the roster to have been with the team for more than an offseason.
I 100% believe football would be better if kicking and punting were not allowed. Just make them go for it, it’ll be great.
But...since we still live in the era where punting and kicking is not only allowed, but encouraged by conservative coaches, this group will do just fine for the Illini. Illinois has a decent kicker, and a promising young Australian punter. With freshman James McCourt waiting to take over kicking duties, Illinois will be set with specialist for a few years.