Starter: Zy Crisler
Jordyn Slaughter is going to handle one guard position for the Illinois football program, and I think the other guard role should go to transfer, Zy Crisler. He is a 6-foot-6, 360-pound beast who did some wonderful things during spring practice that won me over.
Crisler is only a sophomore this season, as he spent his first year with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He was the No. 16 ranked JUCO player coming out of the class of 2022, and Illinois was able to snag him. This is going to be a great addition for the Illini. Someone that big with the talent that Crisler has makes him a scary talent. I wouldn’t be shocked if Crisler makes an All-Big Ten team this season.
Backup: Tommy Cronin
Crisler should see, by far, the most snaps at first-string, but backing him up should be someone like Tommy Cronin. He is a 6-foot-4, 305-pound offensive lineman who has some experience and can spell snaps when needed.
Cronin did get a chance to play in five games for the Illini last season. These are important games for the young sophomore, and I think that development last year would help him as a second-string guard this season. Look for Cronin to be a solid depth piece for Illinois in 2022.
Backup: Matt Fries
Matt Fries was a part of the great class of 2022 that is coming in this season. Illinois was able to bring in a variety of offensive linemen, and Fries is among that group. He was the No. 1058 player in the country.
Fries probably won’t see too many snaps this season. He will get some time in the first few games, but I fully expect him to eventually take a redshirt to save eligibility. Look for Fries to be a mainstay on the offensive line in the future, though.