Our friends at Black Shoe Diaries recently had some fun taking a player from each of Penn State’s 2018 opponents. So, we’re going to do something similar. Instead of taking from our opponents, we’re going to expand the pool by taking a player from each Big Ten School. Why would we do this? Because we are in the summer doldrums and imperialist fantasies are fun.
To make this a little more interesting, we are not going to just take the most highly touted player on each roster. We will instead to take the player that we feel would be most useful to the Illini.
We will start our pillaging in the Big Ten East.
Player: Tyrrell Pigrome - QB
QB remains an offseason question mark and with Illini Offensive Coordinator Rod Smith needing a Quarterback that can be punish defenses on QB reads, Pigrome would be a welcome addition. Pigrome can not only punish defenses on the ground but also through the air.
Here we see Pigrome perfectly read a DE crashing on the RB. Then, he perfectly reads his pulling blockers and his athleticism takes over in the open field.
With the defense having to respect his ability on the ground, all Pigrome needs is a mild play action fake to freeze the defense and then he goes over the top for a touchdown.
Pigrome suffered a season ending knee injury in the third quarter of the Terps’ 2017 opening game victory over Texas, but in three quarters we saw how deadly he could be. Rod Smith could utilize Pigrome’s skill set to terrorize defenses.
And if anything, this is a dynamic QB for the Illini to face this season.
Player: Ben Bredeson - OL
Bredeson is both versatile and athletic. He can play any position on the OL. In his two years in Ann Arbor, he’s showed the ability to open holes in the power run game and the ability to pull to set edges for the offense.
He still has some work to do in pass protection but pass protection has been at issue at Michigan since Harbaugh took over. So, the issues might not necessarily be with Bradenson.
Although the blocking in Michigan’s traditional power pro-style scheme is different than what than the zone blocking that comes with the zone read Rod Smith likes to run, Bradeson’s vertaility has demonstrated that he can seal edges up the middle or on the outside both which are important elements of a zone blocking scheme.
Player: Shareef Miller - DE
Miller is as disruptive as they come. He can disrupt both an offense’s run game and passing attack. In 2018, he had 11 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. Plug Miller into the Illini DL, which is expected to mature this season, and you start building the kind of depth that creates championship defenses.
Player: Luke Timian - WR
Timian is not a big play threat but he’s a great route runner and has great hands. This allows him to play on the outside or inside in the slot if need be, He would also be a great insurance policy if Mike Dudek’s injury issues creep up again. Rod Smith would likely utilize Timian’s great hands on Run-Pass Options,
Player: Joe Bachie - LB
The Illini’s needs at linebacker have been well documented and Bachie is exactly what the Illini needs in the middle. He stuffs the run and terrorizes opposing quarterbacks with pressure and in pass defense. In 2017, he had 8.5 TFLs, three sacks, five passes defensed and took part in 15 stuffs.
Player: Parris Campbell WR
Picking which player from Ohio State’s roster is no easy task because any Buckeye would be a welcome addition to the Illini roster. Nonetheless, we can only pick one and that one is Parris Campbell, a WR that can punish a defense from anywhere on the field.
Campbell is a native of Akron, Ohio, and an alum of St Vincent St. Mary, the same high school that produced Lebron James, my father-in-law, and several members of my wife’s extended family. So, he gets preferential treatment from me.
Rod Smith could do evil things with a player like Campbell who is not only fast but can deceptively accelerate on a whim. Smith could put Campbell in the slot or outside at receiver. He could also use Campbell in the run game on reverses or he can simply hand it off to Campbell and watch him turn small creases into explosive gains.
Player: Blessuan Austin - CB
Like Ohio State, it’s hard to pick from Rutgers roster but for different reasons. With this pick, we went to the best unit on Scarlet Knights: their defensive secondary. Taking it a step further, we are going with the most disruptive player in their secondary in Blessuan Austin.
His 2017 season was cut short with an injury in September, but in 2016, Austin was a one-man show in the secondary, breaking up 15 passes. When considering how terrible the 2016 Rutgers’ defense played and the inability of Rutgers’ defensive line to create any havoc whatsoever for offenses, you realize that the above stats are very impressive.
Austin has the lockdown corner potential that would allow the Illini to get aggressive with their blitz packages.