Illinois football was able to land a big-time transfer portal SEC defensive lineman on Saturday.
There are quite a few holes to fill on the Illini roster. While Bret Bielema has secured solid recruiting classes since coming to Champaign, it is nice to have transfer portal players to help fill the talent voids until those young players get up to speed.
On Saturday, Illinois was able to land one of those transfer portal players. Enyce Sledge took to social media to announce that he has ended his transfer portal recruitment and has committed to Illinois.
Coming out of high school in Louisiana, Sledge was a three-star recruit who was ranked as the No. 876 player in the class of 2022. He was also the No. 119 defensive lineman in the country and the No. 39 player coming out of Louisiana.
Sledge had a lot of big-time recruiting attention, but he would ultimately pick Auburn as his landing spot. Sledge took a redshirt in 2022, and this past season, he saw action in two games. Now the talented defensive lineman is looking to reboot his career with the Illini with, I believe, three years of eligibility remaining.
Illinois football has bolstered the defensive line through the transfer portal
Bielema and the Illini coaching staff knew they needed to retool the defensive line. Jer’Zhan Newton was always going to be heading to the NFL Draft. When you lose an All-American in Newton and an All-Big Ten player in Keith Randolph Jr., you know you have serious work to do in the offseason. Add to that, Denzel Daxon graduated and Sed McConnell has entered the transfer portal.
Illinois has done a great job bolstering the defensive line. On Saturday, Sledge joined the program. While he doesn’t have a ton of experience and playing time, he was a highly recruited player coming out of the class of 2022. There is talent there with Sledge, and my hope is that he was just behind some other talented defensive linemen at Auburn.
Sledge joins Clay Patterson, who transferred into the Illinois program about a week ago. Patterson joins the Illini after spending four seasons with Yale. In the three seasons Patterson saw action on the field, he had 110.0 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks, 4.0 pass deflections, 1.0 interceptions, and 1.0 fumble recoveries. So, there is clearly a lot of talent there with Patterson.
Patterson is going to be a starter from day one on the defensive line. I am curious to see what Sledge can do when he steps on the field. I believe there is a solid chance he is starting for the Illini in 2024 as well.
Bielema needed to hit the ground running when it came to the transfer portal, and he has done a good job thus far. There is a lot more work to do, though. Let’s see if we can continue landing solid transfer portal talent.