Illinois Football: Illini snag Alabama transfer Eddie Smith

The impact of Bret Bielema being hired continues to be felt on the Illinois football roster.

About a month into the job and the new Illini head coach is already wrangling in some big-time transfer talent. On Thursday morning, Illinois received a transfer commitment from Eddie Smith.

Smith is a 6-foot, 184-pound safety who just finished up his redshirt sophomore season with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Coming out of Salmen High School in Louisiana, Smith was looked at as a solid player. He was rated by 247Sports as a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 27 cornerback in the class of 2018.

Many teams came calling for the talented defensive back, but when you have Alabama wanting you, it is hard to turn that down. Smith would end up picking the Crimson Tide over some of the best programs in college football.

As a freshman, Smith saw action in six games and was mainly a special teams player. In 2019, he redshirted after playing in limited action. This past season, Smith once again saw little action with Alabama. With three years left, he now joins the Orange and Blue and looks for a fresh start.

What does Smith bring to the Illini?

Well, there isn’t a ton of playing experience, but that doesn’t mean anything. Just because you are deep on Alabama’s roster doesn’t mean you are a bad player. Honestly, for the last 10 years or so, Alabama’s third string could probably beat Illinois’ first string.

With that being said, this is an immediate boost at the safety position for the Illini. Smith will have a starting spot from day one. There isn’t a question in my mind that, as long as he is healthy, he will start every game for the Illini the rest of his career.

The Illinois secondary has been pretty bad the last five or so years. There is zero depth in the secondary right now. Most of the talent is returning for the Illini next season, but even with the players returning, we were going to have major depth issues.

I see Smith being slotted into one of the starting safety roles. Alongside Smith, you probably slot in Derrick Smith to make an All-Smith safety position. I would move Tony Adams back to cornerback because we are so thin there. I think Sydney Brown will come in for relief at safety and is a better depth piece than we have had in years. That is how I see this playing out.