Illinois Football: Transfer portal defensive lineman backs out of Illini commitment

Big Ten Football Media Days
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Things were going a little too well for the Illinois football class of 2024.

Entering Monday, the Illini had 19 commitments along with three transfers ready to sign on with the program. Things were looking great for Bret Bielema’s third recruiting class.

Well, on Monday afternoon, Illinois lost one of the players who was supposed to come in next season. Defensive lineman Clay Patterson announced that he would not be transferring to Illinois. He has reopened his recruitment and is looking for a new home.

Those 16 days Patterson was committed to transferring to Illinois were magical. Patterson entered the transfer portal on November 23. He then committed to the program on December 2. On December 18, he is no longer with the program.

Despite a transfer portal mishap, Illinois football is still looking good on the defensive line for 2024

Patterson’s departure hurts, don’t get me wrong. He is a monster of a defensive lineman who could have helped the Illini win games in 2024. But Bielema has done a nice job rebuilding the defensive line.

Illinois has secured two other defensive line transfers thus far. Anthony Johnson pledged to the Orange and Blue from Youngstown State, and Enyce Sledge is transferring in from Auburn. Both players will have a good shot at starting for Illinois in 2024.

In addition to the newcomers via the transfer portal, Illinois has a solid player in TeRah Edwards returning. And we have some nice young pieces in Evan Kirts and Jeremiah Warren, among others.

I am also excited about the players coming in from the class of 2024 on the defensive line. Eddie Tuerk is a massively underrated defensive lineman. I think he has a chance to be pretty special for this program. Illinois also has Demetrius John, Angelo McCullom, and Joe Barna coming into the program. These freshmen are the foundation for future success.

While Patterson departing the program hurts, I think Illinois is building something special on the front lines. It wouldn’t hurt to secure another transfer portal defensive lineman, but if we rode into the 2024 campaign with what we have right now, I would be comfortable.

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