The Illinois football coaching staff has been busy the last few days with offering players who could help the program in the future.
After the 2019 campaign, the Illini had their defensive line essentially gutted. Most of the starting four defensive linemen departed the program leaving a skeleton crew to pick up the pieces for 2020. Despite having talented players who can step up, we need more depth, especially at defensive tackle. Snagging Aden Kelley would help fill the void.
Kelley is a 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive tackle from Thomas-Fay-Custer High School and resides in Thomas, Oklahoma. He is rated as a three-star recruit who is the No. 420 player in the class of 2021 and the No. 24 defensive tackle in the nation. He is also the No. 6 player in the state of Oklahoma.
— Aden Kelley (@KelleyAden) June 27, 2020
On Friday, Kelley took to Twitter to announce that he had received a scholarship offer from the University of Illinois. This was a big offer by the Illini and a recruitment that I believe we can get into. The Illini aren’t the only team after this kid, though. He currently has 21 offers with Oklahoma State, TCU, Iowa State and Nebraska having the lead, according to 247Sports.
As previously mentioned, the Illinois defensive line took a hit after the 2019 campaign. The defensive tackle position alone had Tymir Oliver and Jamal Milan graduate, who were both starters. Kenyon Jackson was a primary backup at defensive tackle, and he also graduated from Illinois. So, the Illini are losing a lot of depth.
When 2021 rolls around, Illinois is going to be a similar position as they were in 2019. I have Jamal Woods and Calvin Avery starting at defensive tackle, both of whom will be seniors. Deon Pate and Anthony Shipton should be their backups and they are both seniors as well. That means Illinois is going to be looking to rebuild in 2022.
I see Kelley coming in year one and redshirting. He could sit out the 2021 campaign and get stronger and learn better technique. When the 2022 campaign begins, Kelley would then have a chance to see starts as a redshirt freshman. I could legitimately see him starting a majority of games in 2022. Illinois is going to need this kid.