Illinois football might be in the running for a big-time transfer portal defensive lineman.
It is going to hurt to lose Jer’Zhan Newton to the next level. The star defensive lineman was so special for the Illini, and his hard work and talent are paying off, as Newton has not only won a ton of college awards, but he is also going to be a top-15 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Replacing Newton is nearly impossible. How can you replace a player who is an All-American and one of the best to ever play for the Orange and Blue? I can think of how to come close, by landing a transfer portal defensive lineman from Alabama.
On Thursday, Crimson Tide defensive lineman Isaiah Hastings announced that he was entering the transfer portal. Since he announced less than 24 hours ago, teams have flooded him with scholarship offers. Illinois is included in that offer pool.
Well, according to On3.com’s prediction data, there are three teams in the lead to land Hastings. They have Virginia Tech at 38.1% followed by Illinois at 33.3% and Washington at 28.6%.
Illinois football landing Isaiah Hastings out of the transfer portal would help fill the hole left by Jer’Zhan Newton
This would be a massive addition to the Illini roster. There are so many question marks on the defensive line right now, especially with Keith Randolph Jr. joining Newton in heading to the NFL. Hastings would help fill those holes, though.
Coming out of high school in Florida, Hastings was a four-star recruit and the No. 139 player in the class of 2022. He was also the No. 19 defensive lineman in the country and the No. 19 player coming out of Florida.
Every team in the country wanted Hastings, but he picked Alabama. In 2022, Hastings took a redshirt. This past season, he didn’t see a snap of action. Now the talented defensive lineman is looking for a new home with three years of eligibility remaining.
Illinois snagging a former top 150 recruit would be great. It is not like there have been a lot of injuries or he couldn’t perform well on the field either. Alabama just has a deep team, so Hastings didn’t see the field.
Hastings would start from day one for the Illini. He would come into the program and immediately be inserted into the 3-4 or nickel defense Illinois plays. You can’t replace Newton on the defensive line, but adding Hastings would be the closest thing to doing so. Hopefully, that 33.3% will grow over the next couple of days.