The 2020 Outland Trophy preseason watch list was released on Tuesday, and you can find the Illinois football program represented.
The Outland Trophy is presented to the best offensive lineman in college football. Heading into the 2020 campaign, I believe Illinois has one of the best offensive lines we have ever seen in Champaign. So, obviously, there should be some representation on the Outland Trophy watch list.
The first player you will find on the list is Kendrick Green. Green is the best offensive lineman on the team, in my opinion. He isn’t just an ace guard who can pull well and block with the best of the best. This kid is a Swiss Army knife and is able to play multiple positions.
— Outland Trophy (@outlandtrophy) July 21, 2020
Green came into the Illinois football program as a defensive tackle. He was one of the best players in the class of 2017, as he was a high three-star or low four-star by all of the recruiting sites. Illinois needed the most help on the offensive line, so Green flipped over to protect the Illini quarterbacks.
As a redshirt freshman, Green started every game for Illinois at guard. He was clearly going to be a key cog in any future success this team was going to have. This past season, as a sophomore, Green started every game for the Illini which included 12 contests at guard, and he even filled in at center when Doug Kramer was hurt.
The other Illinois offensive lineman you will find on the list is tackle, Alex Palczewski.
When Lovie Smith took over the Illini, it was rough going the first few seasons. He had to root out the previous regime and bring in some of his own talent to improve the program. One of the underrated recruits Lovie brought in was Palczewski.
Palczewski wasn’t the most highly rated recruit in the class of 2017. He was a solid three-star recruit with okay offers from around the country. But this Illinois program saw something in him from day one. As soon as the star tackle stepped on the field, it was magic.
As a true freshman, Palczewski started in 11 games for the Illini at guard. He then flipped over to the tackle position where Illinois needed him the most in 2018. He started every game at tackle that year. In 2019, Palczewski once again started every game at tackle for the Illini. He has been a rock for this program and will continue to dominate.
I am a little shocked to not see center Doug Kramer on the preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy. He is another offensive lineman who has started a number of games and continues being a stalwart in the Illinois offense. But two on the list isn’t bad. I think we are poised to have a legendary year.