I believe the Illinois football team has some serious talent from top to bottom, and it looks like a national football website agrees to some extent.
Coming off a 5-7 campaign in 2021, the Illini fanbase should be optimistic about the future of the program. Four out of the seven losses in 2021 were by seven points or less, so there is potential for great improvement in 2022.
Illinois is going to need to play to their full potential this season, though. While I feel like there are numerous players who have a ton of potential, Pro Football Focus is eyeing two Illini players for their preseason Big Ten All-American teams.
Illinois football has two players who made the Pro Football Focus Big Ten All-American team.
I honestly believe Illinois isn’t getting enough love when it comes to the preseason Big Ten All-American teams for PFF. There are two players who did make a team for PFF.
Running back Chase Brown is the first name you come to. He is on the preseason third-team All-Big Ten. It shocks me to see Brown this low. The first team consists of TreVeyon Henderson for Ohio State, who rushed for 1,172 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, and Blake Corum out of Michigan, who rushed for 939 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The second team consists of Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen and Michigan’s Donovan Edwards. Finally, the third team is Brown and Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim.
I have some adjustments to make with the teams. I would shift Corum down to the second team. Allen would replace him on the first team. I then think Brown should move up to the second team. Edwards being on the second team baffles me. The kid rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns in 2021. How in the world is he on the second team?
Brown should be on the second team. He is one of the best running backs in the Big Ten and will prove that, again, in 2022.
The other player who made PFF’s All-American teams is offensive tackle, Alex Palczewski. I don’t have a problem with him being on the third team. Palczewski has 52 starts at the college level, and he is going to be one of the best offensive linemen in the Big Ten.
Illinois football All-American snubs
WR Isaiah Williams
I believe Williams is a Big Ten All-American snub. He is returning after catching 47 passes for 525 yards and four touchdowns in 2021. He ranked No. 19 in the Big Ten in receiving yards, and Williams now has a quarterback who can get him the ball.
PFF’s third-team list consists of Marvin Harrison Jr. from Ohio State and Chris Autman-Bell from Minnesota, who both had fewer receiving yards in 2021 than Williams. I think Williams should have been on, at least, the third team.
LB Tarique Barnes
Barnes might be the most underrated player in the Big Ten. I think him being left off the PFF preseason Big Ten All-American list just reinforces that fact.
In 2021, Barnes finished with 80 tackles, which ranked No. 18 in the Big Ten. He also had five pass deflections, two forced fumbles, two sacks, and an interception. Instead of Barnes, PFF has Ohio State’s Steele Chambers on the third team.
Chambers switched from running back to linebacker last season and only had 42 tackles, two pass deflections, one forced fumble, one sack, and one interception. Somehow, he made the third team.
PFF also put Curtis Jacobs from Penn State on the second team. He only had 51 tackles, two sacks, and one interception last season. He ranked No. 59 in the Big Ten in tackles. Jacobs was just a freshman in 2021, but he still started in 11 games. The fact he is a second-teamer confuses me. Barnes should be either a second or third-team All-Big Ten linebacker.