"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Redshirt Junior LB has left the program.
Little prospects of playing time, but no reason for leaving were given. Might be trying to transfer somewhere, done with football or something else.
Isaiah Bell was regarded as an average safety by Scout and Rivals, but ESPN* had him as a top 100 overall player, invited him to their all-star game, and wrote an over-the-top positive appraisal of his playmaking skills in the secondary. A sample:
...shows outstanding ball skills...rules the secondary as a free safety. Has great instincts and plays outstanding zone coverage especially in the three deep. Should be a solid halves player also in two deep zone...Breaks quickly on the pass with a burst to the football. High points the football and has great timing on the interception...magnificent kickoff return specialist; has good speed and can read his blocks. Has a second gear and can kick it in to blow by would-be tacklers....A good openfield tackler...has good foot agility and shows flexibility in the hips. Can change direction without loss of speed or balance...
Note the many comments about speed/agility.
Amidst other threads I often bring up Bell to a resounding chorus of confused shrugs. No one seems to know much except that he was converted to LB, and got a lot bigger. That move always seemed odd to me since we are so weak/thin at safety. (I do not mean weak/thin literally, as a shot at Vinopal--you know what I mean.)
So...commenters at Scout are now suggesting Bell is moving to DE. (!?)
The kid who was a "magnificent kickoff return specialist" is being pushed up to the line? Does that seem odd, especially with the new staff's presumed emphasis on defensive bone density?
This is a pretty bizarre positional evolution for this kid, no? Free safety / kick returner to DL? Can you really eat and lift your way across the positional ocean like that?
Please help me understand, so I can stop typing sentences with question marks.
*I know a lot of people think ESPN's rankings are generally sub-par or impacted by a conflict of interest since they also host one of the two all-star games. The first point is simply wrong (some discussion here). But there may be some merit to the second argument, and since Bell was an UA invitee, I am willing to give the rating an asterisk.
I know that he is only a RS FR and wasn't the highest rated player in the class, but with the lack of talent at LB why haven't I heard anything about Bell? Did I just miss it?
In the most recent GBMW tidbit post* neither Mike Jones, Brandon Hawthorne nor Isaiah Bell were listed as running with the 1s or 2s. I found that somewhat disconcerting because they did list 3 regular walk ons as well as a walk on fullback learning linebacker on the second team. Apparently this group couldnt muster much of a fight against the second team offense. Are any of the guys mentioned above hurt? What positions are Hawthorne and Jones playing?
Also an interesting tidbit: they have Fitzgerald at Roh's position for now.
*I know. I read for the depth chart and how reps are split almost exclusively.
The '09 class had at least three linebackers (Isaiah Bell, Mike Jones, and Brandin Hawthorne) with some promise. Aside from Hawthorne (apparently spending time at deep safety), has there been any word on the progress of the others this spring?
I was wondering if anyone had heard anything about Isaiah Bell. I remember Rivals and Scout feeling pretty "meh" about him and ESPN gushing over him. Watching him cover some pretty talented guys in the Under Armour AA game made me think he might make it as a safety, but with the usage of Stevie Brown at SAM being so effective and Bell commenting that he would be "real close" to the line of scrimmage, I was wondering if anyone knew if he was sticking to the SAM spot.