The Illinois football team picked up a big commitment on Tuesday afternoon.
With the basketball team being in the Big Ten Tournament and soon to be in the NCAA tournament, the football program has been an afterthought to some Illini fans. But this is going to be a big year for the Orange and Blue. Adding a player like Christian Bell to the mix will help with winning as well.
Back on January 3, Bell announced on Twitter that he would be transferring away from the University of Wisconsin to become a graduate transfer. This enabled him to transfer to any program without the penalty of sitting out a year. On Tuesday, Bell ended his recruitment and committed to playing football for Lovie Smith and the Illini.
Coming out of Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama, Bell was rated as a three-star recruit who was the No. 407 player in the class of 2015 and the No. 16 weak-side defensive end in the nation. He was also the No. 15 player in the state of Alabama.
— Christian Bell (@BELL_ringerr) March 10, 2020
Bell originally committed to Alabama but decided to transfer out of the program after his first year. He then picked Wisconsin as his landing spot. In 2017, he played in eight games for the Badgers and had 2 tackles and 1 sack. In 2018, he played in nine games and had 2 tackles and a pass breakup. Last season, he managed to play in seven games with eight tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
Illinois is the final landing spot for Bell. He has one year left and is transferring in at a great time. Hopefully, we can see him join the team for spring practice. Bell is also a great addition considering the talent we lost with Wole Betiku departing the program for the NFL.
Despite the departure of Betiku, Illinois is looking pretty solid at defensive end. I have Bell slotted in as a starter with Isaiah Gay on the opposite end of the line. Backing those two up, I have Owen Carney Jr. and Ayo Shogbonyo. That is one dangerous defensive end unit.
Edit: I missed that Ayo Shogbonyo stepped away from football. On my depth chart, he would be replaced by Keith Randolph Jr.
I love this addition by the Illini. Lovie and the coaching staff are really building something special in Champaign. Look for this to be another great year.