Illinois football has hit the ground running when it comes to offseason recruiting.
The Illini are losing two of the most talented defensive linemen we have had in the past decade. Keith Randolph Jr. is going to, potentially, be an NFL Draft pick. He has great strength and size, and I think he will impress teams this offseason.
Jer’Zhan Newton is the big gut punch to the Illinois defense. Newton is likely to be a unanimous first-team All-American, and losing him will hurt the defense so much. I haven’t seen anyone impact a defense like Newton did this past season.
With so much change happening, the Illinois football team needed to act quickly. Bret Bielema has done just that by already adding multiple players since the season ended. The latest transfer portal addition is graduate transfer Clay Patterson.
Patterson announced that he was transferring to Illinois after spending the last four seasons with the Yale Bulldogs. The Illini are now getting a talented defensive lineman who will help fill the voids left by some legends.
The Illinois football defensive front seven continues to get stronger with the latest transfer portal addition
If nothing else, Patterson adds much-needed depth to the Illinois defensive line. In three seasons of on-field play with the Bulldogs, Patterson had 111.0 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks, 4.0 pass deflections, 1.0 interceptions, and 1.0 fumble recoveries.
That is good production. I could see Patterson coming in and starting for Illinois from day one. The Illini also have players like Sed McConnell and TeRah Edwards waiting in the wings. They will have an impact on the defensive line in 2024.
I love what Bielema has done in the class of 2024 as well. He has added instant-impact junior college transfer Daniel Brown at the outside linebacker position. Joining Brown are freshmen Josaiah Knight and Easton Baker. Illinois is also adding Eddie Tuerk, Demetrius John, and Angelo McCullom on the defensive line.
The Patterson addition is big for the Illini. He adds to a front seven that continues to build strength. I imagine Illinois isn’t done adding on the defensive side of the ball this offseason either.