Illinois Football: Illini a top team for Alabama transfer portal lineman

Rutgers v Illinois
Rutgers v Illinois / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

It looks like an Alabama transfer portal player has the Illinois football team as one of his top programs.

The Illini are plugging away at the transfer portal. We have five transfers into the program, with the most recent coming from a four-star transfer tight end, Cole Rusk.

Bret Bielema is not finished adding transfers to the roster, though. He has his eyes set on quite a few players, and now one of the players, Isaiah Hastings, seems close to making a decision.

On Monday morning, Hastings took to social media and posted four team pictures. He had himself in a Missouri, Cal, Syracuse, and Illinois uniform. The post featured the eyes and shrugging emoji, suggesting these are the teams he is choosing between.

Illinois football looks to be retooling the defensive line completely in the transfer portal

Hastings would be a big addition to the Illinois roster. He is a 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive lineman from Florida. Coming out of high school, he was rated as a four-star recruit and ranked as 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.

Numerous teams wanted Hastings, but the defensive lineman picked Alabama as his landing spot. In year one, Hastings took a redshirt. This past season, he didn’t see time on the field. With three years of eligibility remaining, Hastings is looking for a new home.

Illinois landing Hastings would be big for the program. We lost our starting front three from the 2023 campaign. Jer’Zhan Newton and Keith Randolph Jr. both declared for the NFL Draft shortly after the season, and Denzel Daxon followed suit just in the last week.

There isn’t a ton of experience on the roster returning in 2024 either. I would say someone like TeRah Edwards has the best chance to land a starting spot. That is why Bielema is going into the transfer portal and trying to land a new defensive line.

Anthony Johnson out of Youngstown State has already committed. He is the most sure-fire starter heading into 2024. He has a ton of experience and can do some damage. Illinois also has Enyce Sledge from Auburn coming in. He is a wildcard, as he hasn’t played with the Tigers. There is a ton of potential there, though.

If Hastings did pick Illinois, he would be slotted into a starting role from day one. As a former four-star who didn’t get a shot at Alabama, I would imagine Bielema could pull all of the potential out of Hastings his first year in Champaign. We all saw what Bielema did with Newton. That can be replicated.