Illinois football suffers multiple transfer portal departures before spring game

The transfer portal is affecting the Illinois football program in a negative way, as multiple Illini have departed the program in the past week.
Illinois v Rutgers
Illinois v Rutgers / Corey Perrine/GettyImages

While the craziness of the transfer portal is hitting the basketball program, the Illinois football team is also dealing with some transfer portal issues.

Most of the Illini roster is set for the upcoming spring game to be played on April 20. The spring game is going to be a little taste of what is to come in the fall when Illinois takes the field in hopes of contending for a Big Ten crown.

I have high expectations for the upcoming season as well. Illinois has a good roster, and there are some important pieces returning. But the Illini will be without a few players who have recently entered the transfer portal.

The first domino to fall was Dylan Davis. He came to Illinois as an offensive lineman via the transfer portal, but we moved him to the defensive side of the ball. Davis never registered any numbers with the Illini, as he mainly played on special teams.

Owen Anderson was the next bump in the road. The 6-foot-4 tight end took a redshirt in 2022 and only saw action in one game in 2023. Andreson didn’t register any stats for the Illini, and he has now decided to transfer out.

Quickly following Anderson’s decision, Joey Okla also entered the transfer portal. He also took a redshirt in 2022. This past season, Okla played in one game for the Illini and it was against Florida Atlantic.

Illinois football should be able to sustain the transfer portal departures in recent days

It is never fun to lose players to the transfer portal. I wanted to see these talented athletes develop under the leadership of Bret Bielema and the coaching staff.

Thankfully, these aren’t the biggest departures in the world. Davis shouldn’t hurt Illinois’ defensive line in the least bit. I wish him nothing but the best, but Illinois brought in a handful of transfer portal defensive linemen this offseason, and Davis wouldn't have seen any playing time.

Anderson will hurt the tight end depth. Again, with the departure of Tip Reiman, Bielema went out and secured some tight end help in the transfer portal. Cole Rusk should get the starting nod. Griffin Moore, Tanner Arkin, and Henry Boyer will all have a say in the backup role.

I think the biggest hit to the Illinois roster is going to be Okla. I had high hopes for that kid. He was a great depth piece who would eventually turn into a starter. Illinois did bring in a few transfer portal players to stabilize the offensive line, so maybe that is why Okla is now on the move.

These players will be missed, but I don’t believe the Illini will take a big hit with their departures. I hope nothing but the best for these three athletes.

Next. Illinois basketball snags double-digit scoring wing in the transfer portal. Illinois basketball snags double-digit scoring wing in the transfer portal. dark