6. Gabe Jacas – Linebacker
Man, I was pumped by the season Gabe Jacas had in 2022. The true freshman looked like he was going to be a sure-fire All-American in the near future.
Jacas would notch a spot on the Freshman All-American Team. This was the start of something special. That isn’t the case two games into his sophomore campaign, though.
Through two games, Jacas hasn’t been good. In fact, he has been one of the worst edge defenders in the country. He has played 81 snaps on defense, and 80 of those snaps he lined up on the line of scrimmage.
Jacas currently has a defensive grade of 52.0, which lands him just ahead of Tarique Barnes at No. 652 out of 695 graded edge defenders.
The coverage grade for Jacas has been phenomenal. He has a 71.5 coverage grade, but the trouble with that is that Jacas doesn’t drop back in coverage too often. He is mainly used to stop the run and to tackle ball carries. He has been bad at this, though.
In his first two games of the 2023 season, Jacas has carried a grade of 44.2 when it comes to run defense. This is bad enough to rank No. 656 among all edge defenders. The opposing team is just running right through Jacas in every game.
Jacas was a menace last season for the Illini. That has changed so far in 2023. For the season, Jacas has five tackles. That needs to change. We are going to need his presence in a big way on Saturday against the Nittany Lions. I know this kid has it in him.