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More offensive line help is on the way for Illinois

This massive JUCO tackle is highly rated, but was lightly recruited.

Twitter: @D1_Zy

Offensive tackle Zylon Crisler is a 3-star prospect and will be enrolling at Illinois via Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He is one of seven offensive linemen and one of two Mississippi natives in the 2022 recruiting class. Crisler will have three years of eligibility to play for the Illini. According to his prospect profile, he was recruited by running backs coach Cory Patterson.

Coming in at 6-foot-7 and 355 pounds, Crisler is most comparable to former offensive lineman Vederian Lowe. Both players are big, agile, strong and true offensive tackles. The biggest difference between the two is Crisler has a larger frame and is more physically ready to contribute early on, coming out of a junior college.

Crisler is a massive offensive lineman with boom or bust potential. He has everything needed to be a highly successful offensive tackle in the Big Ten — a great athlete with size, agility, power, quick feet, and long arms. He’ll need to slim down and keep his weight under control to produce at the high level expected from him. If he can handle that aspect, he’ll be exactly what head coach Bret Bielema looks for in an offensive lineman. Crisler has the ability to play both left and right tackle effectively, so depending on the need is where he’ll be slotted.

According to Rivals, Crisler collected a total of 3 offers. Outside of Illinois’ offer, Crisler had options from Alcorn State and Southern Mississippi. He finished the year rated as a 5.7, 3-star, 4th-best JUCO OT, and 16th-best JUCO prospect overall. Crisler would have likely received more offers had other schools known he was an eligible prospect after one year at JUCO. The Illinois staff discovered Crisler after initially recruiting his teammate Percy Lewis, who signed with Mississippi State.

Crisler has an opportunity to play immediately in 2022 due to Illinois’ need for offensive tackle depth, being an early enrollee, and having a year of college football experience. Bielema is high on what Crisler can bring to the team and thinks he has NFL measurable talent. If Crisler can provide depth at the tackle positions — along with Isaiah Adams, the other JUCO offensive tackle in the 2022 class — Bielema will have successfully filled what was a concerning lack of depth and experience on the roster.