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
9 of 10

2. Houston Bates

There are a few players who transferred out who could have been massive difference-makers for the Illinois football program. Houston Bates was one of those players.

No one thought Bates was going to be a great player coming out of high school. He was a three-star recruit who was the No. 639 player in the class of 2010. Bates ended up picking Illinois as his landing spot.

Bates was a linebacker for the Illini. He took a redshirt in 2010, and then he started to make his imprint on the program. Bates played in 35 games in his final three seasons with the program, and he had 81 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in his Illini career.

Illinois went through a coaching change in 2012, though. Ron Zook was fired and in stepped Tim Beckman. After the 2013 season, Bates decided to enter the transfer portal. He ended up committing to Louisiana Tech.

In 2014, Illinois made a bowl game and played Louisiana Tech. We got throttled, 35-18. That Bulldogs team featured multiple future NFL players including Bates. That season, Bates had 42 tackles, 10 sacks, and an interception for Louisiana Tech.

Illinois was able to get to a bowl game in 2014 without Bates. Could you imagine how dirty our defense would have been with him coming off the edge? The Illini defense was our weakness that season, and with Bates in the fold, it could have been a strength. He was missed greatly.