Illinois football in the hunt for big transfer portal nose tackle

While the transfer portal hasn't been good to the Illinois football team, we are still eyeing some players to join the program for 2024
Wyoming v Texas
Wyoming v Texas / Tim Warner/GettyImages

The spring has not been good to the Illinois football team, as the transfer portal has hit us hard.

So far this offseason, the Illini have had 18 players transfer out of the program. That seems like a lot, but other teams have also had double-digit transfers, so that doesn’t bother me too much.

The thing that bothers me the most is the fact there were some key players transfer after the spring game. Incoming transfer Anthony Johnson was supposed to make an impact on the defensive line, but he re-entered the transfer portal and ended up with Mississippi State.

Zachary Tobe was a big part of the Illinois secondary last season as a true freshman. I thought he was poised for a big season, but he transferred and committed to Georgia Tech. The icing on the transfer cake was Andrew Dennis. Illinois snagged this four-star from the class of 2024. Dennis was going to be a big offensive lineman this season. He enrolled early, but after a few months with the program and without playing a game in college, Dennis transferred and is now with Michigan State.

Bret Bielema has taken some big punches to the roster this offseason, but Illinois is starting to fight back. On Thursday, Matt Zenitz of 247Sports reported that transfer portal defensive tackle Gavin Meyer has a few teams on his mind. He is eyeing USC, Cal, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

In the social media post, Zenit mentions Meyer has already planned visits with the Trojans and Bears, and that the Badgers and Illini were in the mix for the talented defensive lineman.

Coming out of Franklin High School in Wisconsin, Meyer wasn’t a highly-rated recruit. He was a three-star recruit who was the No. 1971 player in the class of 2020. He was also the No. 100 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 15 player coming out of Wisconsin.

Meyer ended up picking Wyoming as his landing spot. He didn’t play much in his first two seasons with the Cowboys, but he started to see some action in 2022 and 2023. During the 2022 campaign, he had 39 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 1.0 forced fumbles. This past season, he ended the year with 26 tackles.

Adding Gavin Meyer out of the transfer portal would be a perfect move for the Illinois football program

Just a few days ago, I put together a list of the top five positions that Illinois needed to address in the transfer portal. The second position on that list was nose tackle.

Illinois’ defensive line was gutted this offseason. We lost all three starters. I see TeRah Edwards leading the nose tackle race right now, and a lot of that has to do with the lack of depth. Edwards almost wins by default.

Adding someone like Meyer would give the Illini much better depth at the position. I also believe he could probably push Edwards for the starting job. At worst, we have a nice rotation of Edwards and Meyer heading into the 2024 season.

It is nice to be in the running for the top players in college football, but at this point, Illinois needs depth. Meyer would give the program solid depth at a very shallow position. This would be a big transfer portal get for Bielema.

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