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Kerby Joseph named First Team All-Big Ten

It’s been a while since the Illini had a DB this good.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois has its first First Team All-Big Ten defensive back in more than a decade.

Kerby Joseph was named to the team Tuesday morning, becoming the first Illini DB since Vontae Davis in 2008 to be named to the top team.

Joseph had a monster senior year, being the top-graded defensive back in the nation, per Pro Football Focus. He also tied for first in the country with five interceptions.

Joseph isn’t just a defensive back — he’s a safety. And that’s what makes his accomplishment even more historic, as no Illini safety had earned first-team honors since Mike Gow in 1973! Nearly 50 years ago!

Let’s make it even more impressive, why don’t we?

In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Joseph only had 19 tackles. He only had 26 tackles through his first two seasons (2018-19), but this year finished with 57 alone (including 41 solo tackles).

We’ve given a lot of credit to Ryan Walters for a great first season, but this defense isn’t nearly as good as it was without Kerby Joseph, who should be a NFL Draft pick in 2022.