Michigan players Illinois football should target if they hit the transfer portal

Oct 6, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema talks with
Oct 6, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema talks with / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Trey Pierce

  • Defensive Line
  • Sophomore
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Brother Rice High School

Illinois was in the running for quite a few Michigan players over the last couple of years. If someone like Trey Pierce entered the transfer portal and Illinois targeted him, the Illini would get a huge boost on the defensive line.

Pierce is a 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive lineman from Brother Rice High School in Illinois. Coming out of the class of 2023, Pierce was rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 567 player in his class. He was also the No. 61 defensive lineman in the country and the No. 9 player coming out of Illinois.

Illinois was right in the mix for Pierce during his recruitment. He took three total visits to Illinois, one of those three visits was an official visit as well. Pierce also took official visits to Wisconsin and Michigan with the Wolverines eventually winning out.

It really is crazy how much talent Illinois was close to landing in 2023. If Pierce does hit the transfer portal sometime in the next 30 days, the Illini should be serious contenders for him.

Illinois’ defensive line was gutted this offseason. Jer’Zhan Newton, Keith Randolph Jr., and Denzel Daxon all decided to head to the NFL. We don’t have much experience behind these three talented linemen either.

Bret Bielema hit the transfer portal hard when it came to the defensive line. Illinois has brought in Dennis Briggs Jr., a former four-star recruit, from Florida State. We also have Anthony Johnson and Enyce Sledge coming in from Youngstown State and Auburn, respectively.

So, Illinois does have talent to help fill those missing snaps, but none of the players coming in have proved much. If Pierce hits the transfer portal and Illinois lands the kid, he would have a legitimate chance to not only see snaps in year one, but he could easily start.