Even without a defensive coordinator on the coaching staff for three months, Illinois is adding to its defense.
Three-star linebacker Tarique Barnes committed to Illinois on Monday afternoon via Twitter.
The Memphis native joins Illinois’ 2019 class, where 11 players signed in the Early Signing Period in December. Barnes is the second commit for Illinois in the new year, joining fellow linebacker Shammond Cooper.
According to 247, Barnes also had offers from Arkansas, Mississippi State and Missouri, but committed after a visit to Illinois this past weekend. He is ranked the 98th-best OLB in the class of 2019.
The 6-foot, 216-pound linebacker likely won’t see the field right away as Illinois looks to pick up depth on defense, but Lovie Smith and staff have not been strangers to throwing freshmen into the system through his first three years in Champaign. The Illini return Jake Hansen and Jimmy Marchese nexts year at the position, as well as adding Milo Eifler, who sat out the 2018 season after transferring from Washington.
The response from Barnes’ future teammates has been positive so far too.
Check out Barnes’ highlight tape below from his senior season at East High School in Memphis.
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