3. DeVonta Smith
- Position: DB
- Year: Senior
- Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
The need for secondary help was evident this past season. While there were some good moments for the Illini defensive backfield, there was a lot left to be desired.
I want Illinois to always have one of the best defenses in the Big Ten. That means we have one of the best defenses in the country. Adding a player like DeVonta Smith from Alabama would be great for the Illinois secondary.
Wait, DeVonta Smith? No, it’s not the wide receiver. Coming out of La Salle High School in Ohio, Smith was a four-star recruit who was the No. 154 player in the class of 2021. He was also the No. 12 cornerback in the country and the No. 6 player coming out of Ohio.
In 2021 and 2022, Smith mainly played on special teams. This past season, he saw action in two games on defense and played a total of 30 snaps.
Illinois needs a lot of help in the secondary, and Smith would be a great option. We have added a few nice freshmen pieces, but there hasn’t been a defensive back transfer into the program just yet. After losing Taz Nicholson to the transfer portal, and struggling in general this past season, Illinois needs to add more depth in the defensive backfield.
If Smith ever becomes available now that Nick Saban has retired, then Illinois should target him. I think he would be a great option at either cornerback or safety, and he would have a chance to start from day one.