Illinois Football: Top FCS transfer portal offensive lineman has Illini in mix

WORCESTER - Holy Cross offensive linemen Eric Schon and Luke Newman, left to right, at practice Wednesday, August 16, 2023.
WORCESTER - Holy Cross offensive linemen Eric Schon and Luke Newman, left to right, at practice Wednesday, August 16, 2023. /

Illinois football seems to be honing in on a transfer portal player who could boost the offensive line.

I would argue this was one of the worst Illini offensive lines I have seen in my lifetime. We had a hard time blocking anyone, and now three out of the five starters are departing the program.

With such struggles on the offensive line, and the departures, Bret Bielema knows he needs to add a lot of talent to this grouping. That is why Illinois has targeted and is now in the mix for Holy Cross transfer, Luke Newman.

On Monday, Allen Trieu of 247Sports took to social media to announce that Newman has narrowed the scope of his recruitment down to six teams. The six programs that are vying for his services include Wake Forest, Michigan State, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Illinois.

Illinois football needs to add an offensive lineman like Luke Newman from the transfer portal

Newman would be a great pick-up for the Illini. He is a 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive lineman from Michigan. He picked Holy Cross coming out of high school and spent the last four seasons with the Crusaders.

In 2021, Newman was elevated to the starting lineup and has been dominant ever since. He has made the All-Patriot first team and has been an All-American each of the past three seasons. This run includes starting every game for Holy Cross as well.

If Illinois were to pull Newman in for 2024, it would be one of the best additions to the program. Illinois would be getting an All-American player at the FCS level and someone with enough experience to step into the starting right or left tackle job from day one.

Bielema knows how much Illinois needs better offensive line play, especially at the tackle positions. I couldn’t tell you how many times a defensive end would rush and completely obliterate the Illini offensive tackles. It hurt us so often.

As far as offensive tackles who played enough snaps to be graded, Pro Football Focus had Illini offensive tackles Julian Pearl and Isaiah Adams with pass-blocking grades of 53.7 and 51.9, which ranked No. 482 and No. 500 out of 589 offensive tackles, respectively.

To say addressing the offensive line is needed is an understatement. Newman would come into the Illinois program and start for a Big Ten team from day one. This would be a great choice for him. I believe Bielema would help elevate Newman and put him in the talks of a first-round NFL Draft pick as well. This would be a huge addition.

Next. Illini building front seven with latest transfer portal addition. dark