5 big questions for the Illinois football spring game

It might only be April, but that means we get to see a glimpse of the Illinois football team during the spring game.
Illinois v Iowa
Illinois v Iowa / Matthew Holst/GettyImages
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4. Who stands out among the Illini defensive backs?

Defensive backs are extremely important for a defensive that likes to play Nickel. We didn’t have a lot of defensive back help last season, so the coaching staff bulked up the defensive back room.

Illinois has 21 defensive backs on the roster entering the 2024 campaign, so we have plenty of talent to form the starting unit. But which defensive backs will stand out on the Illinois defense in the spring?

I think there are a few players who have the lead at cornerback. Tyler Strain had a good year in 2023 with 35 tackles, 3.0 pass deflections, and 1.0 interceptions. I am also excited to see the step forward Zachary Tobe takes. He had 25 tackles and 5.0 pass deflections as a true freshman last season.

Who among the other cornerbacks can step up, though? I would like to see Elijah Mc-Cantos and Kaleb Patterson step up and be effective cornerbacks. Demetrius Hill had a lot of promise coming in from Florida International as a freshman All-American. An ACL injury ended his 2023 season, but he will hopefully be a factor sometime before the upcoming campaign starts.

At safety, Illinois has a nice piece in Miles Scott returning, but we need more than just him. Illinois lost Clayton Bush and Nicario Harper, so we need players to step up. I want to see what Saboor Karriem does with this opportunity. I liked him coming out of high school.

There are a lot of defensive backs on the Illinois roster, and there are plenty of snaps to be had. This spring game will help filter out who might be in line for the starting jobs this fall.