Illinois Football: Former Illini target Jarrian Jones is transferring

Don’t be surprised if the Illinois football team is in line for another big-time transfer this offseason.

Lovie Smith and the Illini coaching staff have developed a reputation as a destination for transfers. There is a long list of either traditional or graduate transfers who have made Champaign their home. Some of the key pieces to the 2020 rendition of the team were added via the transfer market.

The Illini are still trying to fill out their roster for the future. While there aren’t too many scholarships available for 2020, the 2021 campaign is where Illinois needs the most help. One player who just entered the transfer portal and could help this program tremendously is Jarrian Jones.

Coming out of Northwest Rankin High School in Mississippi, Jones was rated as a four-star recruit who was the No. 217 player in the class of 2019 and the No. 18 safety in the nation. He was also the No. 13 player in the state of Mississippi.

There was some stiff competition for Jones. He had every program under the sun after him including Alabama and other national powers. But Jones only took three official visits the first time around. He checked out Oklahoma, Mississippi State and Illinois.

Sadly, for Illini fans, Jones picked the Bulldogs as his landing spot. In the lone season with Mississippi State, the talented defensive back was able to play in eight games and finished his freshman season with 12 tackles, 2 pass deflections and a fumble recovery.

Jones now enters 2020 looking for a new home. He announced his intentions to transfer out of the Bulldogs’ program on Tuesday afternoon. Where could a potential landing spot be for Jones? Well, logically, you would think Illinois would be in the mix.

The Illini were one of the three programs to get an official visit from Jones. In my eyes, that puts us right there for his commitment the second time around.

Since Jones would have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, I would then look at the 2021 roster to see where he would fit in on the depth chart. I think there is plenty of room for the soon-to-be redshirt sophomore.

Illinois isn’t currently deep at safety for the 2021 campaign. I have incoming Louisville transfer, TreSean Smith, starting at one of the safety spots. I then have Sydney Brown at the other safety position. But Illinois likes to play a lot of nickel defense. That means we are going to need another safety or cornerback in there for that formation.

If Jones does pick Illinois as the place he wants to finish his college career, I would move Brown over to the nickel position and make Jones the starting safety alongside Smith. That would give me Marquez Beason, Quan Martin, Smith, Jones and Brown as my starting defensive backs. That is a solid group.

Illinois is developing a reputation of Transfer U. Why not add one more to the mix in Jones? I think this is a perfect opportunity to snag a top 300 recruit and continue building the secondary.