"Though I received no official response to these sophisticated and elegant tweets to the Illini Athletic Department, I would like to think that Beckman spent the evening prank calling everyone in Illinois named George McLellan and then ordering an absurd amount of hats off an internet haberdashery to hoard in his home's hat annex."
Groping for optimism; HTML virgin with potential for formatting armageddon; time-wasting; 2010 depth chart
What's the cure for a second straight disappointing season? Wild projections about next year, of course. In that spirit, I tried to imagine an optimistic but not completely ridiculous depth chart for next year. That is, I tried to compromise between what would be an ideal situation (such as: J. B. Fitzgerald beats out Obi for the MLB spot) with what would be awesome but highly unlikely (Anthony LaLota is the second coming of Brandon Graham.) Experts: feel free to pick this apart. I'm especially shaky on my O-line chart, methinks. Analysis follows the table.
DE: Adam Patterson (1)/ Anthony LaLota (4)/ Will Heiniger (2)
DT: Ryan Van Bergen (2)/ Will Campbell (3)/ Greg Banks (1)
NT: Mike Martin (2)/ Will Campbell (3)/ Renaldo Sagesse (1)
Quick: Craig Roh (3)/ Brandon Herron (4)/ Ken Wilkins (4)
MLB: J. B. Fitzgerald (2)/ Obi Ezeh (1)/ Kevin Leach (3)
WLB: Jonas Mouton (1)/ Brandin Hawthorne (4)
SLB: Brandon Smith (3)/ Isaiah Bell (4)
LCB: Donovan Warren (1)/ Troy Woolfolk (1)/ Teric Jones (4)
SS: Vladimir Emilien (4)/ J. T. Floyd (3)/ Mike Williams (2)
Brandon Smith (3) Marvin Robinson* (4)/ Thomas Gordon (4)
RCB: J. T. Turner (4)/ Troy Woolfolk (1)/ Cullen Christian* (4)
QB: Tate Forcier (3)/ Denard Robinson (3) OR Devin Gardner (4)
RB (Rage): Mike Cox (3)/ Stephen Hopkins (4)
RB (Ninja): Michael Shaw (2)/ Vincent Smith (3)/ Fitzgerald Toussaint (4)
LT: Taylor Lewan (4)/ Michael Schofield (4)
LG: Stephen Schilling (1)/ Quinton Washington (4)
C: David Molk (2)/ Rocko Khoury (3)
RG: Patrick Omameh (3)/ Ricky Barnum (4)
RT: Mark Huyge (2)/ Elliot Mealer (3)/ Perry Dorrenstein (1)
TE: Kevin Koger (2)/ Brandon Moore (3)/ Martell Webb (1)
WR1: Darryl Stonum (2)/ Je’Ron Stokes (3)
WR2: Junior Hemingway (2)/ Ricardo Miller (4)
SR: Roy Roundtree (3)/ Martavious Odoms (2)/ Jeremy Gallon (4)/ Terrence Robinson (3)
- While we look strong at DT and Roh should be a monster at Quick, the DE spot is going to have a Graham-sized hole in it next year. Patterson and LaLota are both highly touted, so maybe the light will go on and athletic gifts will translate into productivity. In all likelihood, this position is going to be a weakness next year.
- Ah, linebacking. You may infer from my chart that I retain some hope for Mouton to pull his head out of his ass, but not so much for Obi. This is because Mouton did have a fairly productive year last year, and because his ceiling is higher than Obi's (still waiting to see the purported high-end size-speed combo outta that guy.) If Mouton still has no idea what's going on, my sentimental pick is for Brandin Hawthorne to get out there and blow some people up. As for the Stevie Brown spot (SLB), I think Brandon Smith would be solid there - he's a great athlete with good size at LB or a huge safety with limited athleticism; I choose the former. If not him, Isaiah Bell is the type to fit the mold as well, and I take heart from the fact that some recruiting services loved him (particularly ESPN, IIRC) and he may have sunk because of 'tweener status (which is exactly what this position calls for.)
- Yes, I am living on a prayer at safety. Let's just cross our fingers and hope that Emilien and Robinson are quick learners, because holy hell what else can we do. Mike Williams is Kovacs without the size or the instincts, and sinks accordingly. I was very close to moving Woolfolk back to safety in my imaginary e-chart here, especially if we land three of those 4-star CBs we're after. I did pull the e-trigger on putting J.T. Floyd back to safety, since his athletic upside seems to be limited at CB, but his instincts are not obviously busted.
- I think the offensive picture is a bit more clear, but one glaring spot in which someone needs to step up is the Rage RB. I'm (irrationally) optimistic about Stephen Hopkins here. The Ninja RB spot is rife with talent and will work itself out.
- O-line is where I let my imagination run wild. Feel free to let me know how silly I am being by hoping that Lewan might be good enough to step in at LT. I tried to balance that unicorn-level logic by keeping Schilling ahead of Quinton Washington, but in a perfect world Q would replace Schilling, who hasn't shown any signs of becoming more than adequate despite his 5-star pedigree.
- WR: I just hope that either Stonum, Stokes, or Hemingway can emerge as a downfield, No. 1-type receiver. I miss those types.
Have at it, MGoWorld. For some strange reason, looking at this actually makes me feel somewhat more confident about next year. Especially if Tate can figure out the zone read play and Denard can learn not to turn the ball over.