Illinois football had a little spark at the beginning of the previous coaching regime. While that spark quickly faded, there were a handful of great recruits eyeing the program.
One of the recruits who had a strong interest in the Illini was Ayodele Adeoye. A 6-foot, 231-pound linebacker out of IMG Academy, Adeoye had all the options in the world coming from the high school ranks.
After two official visits, one with Oklahoma and the other with Illinois, the talented linebacker decided to pick neither of those schools. He, instead, went with the Texas Longhorns.
Fast forward to 2021. The St. Louis native has now spent three seasons with the Longhorns. As a freshman, Adeoye played in four games and then took a redshirt. In 2019, as a redshirt freshman, the linebacker then started in 10 games for Texas and accumulated 45 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
This past season, as a redshirt sophomore, Adeoye only managed to play in two games due to a shoulder injury that sidelined him for almost the entire season.
Adeoye is now looking for a new home. Since the 2020 season didn’t count toward eligibility, whoever ends up landing the former four-star recruit will be getting two years of his services.
Here are three reasons why Adeoye should pick the Illini.
1. Playing time availability
I would say the Illini have a solid shot at bringing in the former recruiting target. The first big reason why Adeoye could come to Champaign is playing time.
Before the 2020 campaign, Illinois was already thin at linebacker. On top of being thin, the program lost Jake Hansen and Milo Eifler to the NFL. The best returning linebackers for the Illini would then be Shammond Cooper, Khalan Tolson and Tarique Barnes. Behind those three, we have very little returning.
Bret Bielema did snag a transfer linebacker this offseason in Calvin Hart. He is coming in from North Carolina State and should be a potential starter from day one. Even with the addition of Hart, Illinois only goes about one deep behind their starters. That isn’t good enough to compete with teams in the Big Ten.
You then look toward the class of 2021 that is coming in. Illinois did manage to sign two linebackers in Dylan Rosiek and Kalen Villanueva. These two guys aren’t even close to being ready to compete at the DI level. I would give both of them a few years until they are solid contributors.
With that being said, there is plenty of room to start in the Illinois linebacker corps. The previous coaching regime wasn’t recruiting at a high clip, which is leaving Coach Bielema with a blank canvas. While that is good for getting his own guys into the program, it also means we need to acquire talent quickly. Adeoye would be a great addition.