Top 10 most painful Illinois football transfer portal departures of all time

There isn't a long history of transfer portal departures from the Illinois football program, but there are some painful ones we should remember
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl - Illinois v Louisiana Tech
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl - Illinois v Louisiana Tech / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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7. Shammond Cooper

Illinois had a pretty good pipeline coming out of St. Louis in the Lovie Smith era. I thought Shammond Cooper was going to be a great one, but he didn’t finish his career at Illinois.

Cooper was a four-star recruit who was the No. 300 player coming out of Trinity Catholic High School in 2019. He could have gone to just about every program in the country, but Illinois was able to pull in the talented linebacker.

During his time with the Illini, Cooper’s career was never able to get off the ground. He went through a coaching change, and he couldn’t find his footing on the defense. He played in 18 games for the Orange and Blue and finished with nine tackles.

After the 2022 campaign, Cooper decided his time at Illinois was done. He entered the transfer portal. He was wanted by quite a few programs but ended up picking Akron as his new home.

In 2023, Cooper had a pretty good year with the Zips. He finished with 44 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble, all of which were career highs.

I had such high expectations for Cooper coming to Illinois. I still remember the video of him committing to Illinois at the All-American game. This was a disappointing ending to what was supposed to be a great Illinois career.