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Illinois digs into portal for CB Terrell Jennings

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Jennings will compete for playing time in the secondary.

247 sports

Terrell Jennings is the most recent commitment to the 2022 recruiting class. He brings excellent size and length for a cornerback coming in at 6-foot and 195 pounds. Similar to the latest transfer portal addition, Raashaan Wilkens Jr., Jennings took the unconventional route of lower level football before reaching Power 5 status. He’ll transfer in from Minnesota State University.

Defensive coordinator Ryan Walters has targeted versatile defensive backs with height, length and physicality. Jennings fits that mold and will compete for early playing time. Devon Witherspoon and Tahveon Nicholson are playing at a high level, so Jennings will likely have to learn the system and initially push for backup status. The current backups are Tyler Strain and DD Snyder; however, they have limited game experience. The incoming freshmen defensive backs are talented, but also have a learning curve ahead of them.

Jennings reads the flight of the ball well and can adjust quickly to break up the pass. He has a knack for stripping the football when the opportunity presents itself, something the defensive staff holds in high regard. Despite not yet playing at college football’s top level, Jennings will bring college playing experience and a veteran mindset. He’s willing to play anywhere on the field, including special teams. There is a need at both cornerback and backup nickel, so Jennings will be given every opportunity to compete.

Coach Bret Bielema is attempting to offset gaps in the roster where there are low numbers between classes, as well as increase the talent level. He’ll continue to use the transfer portal to rebalance the roster in an effort to not have drop offs in production in any given year. Illinois fans should expect further portal activity, both in addition and subtraction, in the coming weeks.