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Illinois Football 2019 Signing Day Recap: Offensive Line

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Illinois adds a true freshman and a grad transfer to bolster its depth in the trenches

NCAA Football: Purdue at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Given the risk of injuries and the overall importance of the position group, offensive line depth is of paramount importance to any successful college football program. Illinois addressed that need in the 2019 recruiting class with two additions

Richie Petitbon

Petitbon comes to Champaign as a graduate transfer from Alabama, where he played in six games during the 2018 season for the Crimson Tide. The Alabama transfer has experience at all line positions, and figures to fill the void left by the departure of Larry Boyd at tackle. It’s a bit dated, but Petitbon was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school.

Evan Kirts

Illinois should always take a few high school linemen in each recruiting class to maintain class balance. Lovie chose to take on Evan Kirts for that role in this class. Kirts is a bit undersized at the moment, measuring 6-foot-5 and weighing 250 pounds. He’ll need to bulk up considerably to keep up with defensive linemen and linebackers in the Big Ten, and Luke Butkus is probably eyeing Kirts as a redshirt candidate. That said, the Brother Rice prospect has upside, as he shows a certain tenacity and the ability to make devastating blocks in space.

Rod Smith’s offense took off this past season, and with the help of these incoming linemen, hopefully he can keep up the momentum from last season.

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