The Dirty Dozen -- Version 3.0

CHAMPAIGN - IlliniPlaybook's player power rankings heading into Week Three versus Charleston Southern.

12. Donovonn Young (Last week: not ranked) - Welcome back, Mr. Young! After spending a week on the fringe, you're back on the dance floor. You can thank the rule change (no longer a given, receivers now must earn a spot). Oh, and that 17-yard touchdown run of yours in the second quarter; that helped, too.

11. Jon Davis (6) - Davis is so versatile that he has his own package of plays on top of his normal tight end stuff (that's technical jargon). Unfortunately, when the team got down early, the offense went into survival mode, all butter knife with it (just trying to do anything positive). The Swiss Army knife tossed in the cupboard, there wasn't exactly time to say, hey, let's run the Jon Davis is a beast running downhill package, because 1) Ferguson and Young were averaging over six yards a carry to begin with and 2) running the ball in that situation was like tucking your shirt in before jumping in a pool -- totally useless. Now, that doesn't excuse the fact that he wasn't used in the passing game. But again, it's hard to purposefully incorporate someone when you're just trying to survive. Coincidentally, I decided to hold off on buying a recliner, at least for another pay period or three.


10. Terry Hawthorne (8) - The DD's biggest fears sprang to life when Hawthorne wasn't included in the starting lineup Saturday. Was he hurt? Again? Smh. How bad? Again? I mean, he's OK right? Turns out, Hawthorne is good to go, or so he says. Given his history, it just makes for an uneasy feeling anytime something comes up. As far as our list is concerned, Hawthorne is a top five talent. No question. We're hedging our bet though, because hope tied to a lack of injury is a dangerous play.


09. Hugh Thornton (12) - A few things here: 1) One of two seniors on the line. 2) Smoking loud tribal tat on the right arm is noted. Not my thing, but props for rocking it. 3) You get the feeling he's not ever going to be healthy this season, but nobody says anything about it. Rise and grind my friend. Rise and grind.


08. Earnest Thomas (9) - Let's play a game -- Name the team's leading tackler -- OK, never mind. I just re-checked, and Brown is pacing the field in the tackles category. That's not a surprise. But Thomas trails by only half a tackle. He's tied with...


07. Ashante Williams (7) - That's right, Thomas and Williams are tied for second in tackles thus far. Williams retains his No. 7 slot, but holds serve as the prestigious 'highest ranked dreadlocked individual.'


06. Josh Ferguson (10) - Climbing four spots to No. 6, Ferguson gets credit as one of maybe four players to do anything worth mentioning in the Arizona State game. Did I say four? Yoga – that's a total stretch. A career-high 101 yards rushing has Ferguson trending up. Throw it down, young fella!


05. Graham Pocic (5) - The universal oyster (a young line not lacking for inexperience), the proverbial pearl (Pocic).


04. Akeem Spence (4) - The model of consistency, Spence has been posted up at No. 4 since the inception of this so-called relevant site feature. Dude's just solid. He's kind of like a Three Muskateers bar in that you might not buy one at the store, but you'd damn sure eat one if it presented itself.


03. Michael Buchanan (1) - It's always hard to hand the belt over to a new champion, but I'm sure it was fun while it lasted. There was nothing wrong with the way Buchanan played Saturday (two tackles, one pass breakup). But if you want the throne, or to remain in power, you've got to stand out like Kim Kardashian at an SAT prep study course.


02. Nathan Scheelhaase (3) - Well, Saturday made it quite clear – Scheelhaase is the most valuable player on this team. Don't argue this point -- there is no replacement for what he provides. The offense is tailored to his game and without him, there's no meat on the sandwich. Everything else is salt and pepper.


01. Jonathan Brown (2) (Number of weeks at No. 1: 1) - Oh yeah, we just went all double parenthesis back there. Boom! Brown re-claims the crown after a week of staring at Buchanan's name above his. He's the total package -- production (leading tackler), potential (future player on Sundays), accountable (apologized to fans for the defense's performance Saturday), and a bunch of other things. We don't have all day here, people.


So that's the Dirty Dozen, version 3.0. Until next week, the rest are chasing Brown. Check back Wednesday for the next installment. Tshirts sold at the door on your way out.

Oh, and just for fun…

Dropped out this week: Ryan Lankford - In his defense, he was the only receiver to catch (get it!) a passing grade from the coaching staff for the ASU game. He was actually the only receiver that did anything. Hang in there. We see you.

New to the group: Young - Touchdowns will do that.

Biggest drop: Davis, down six spots to No. 12. Keep your head up.

Biggest rise: Ferguson, up four spots to No. 6. Don't get complacent.

Top freshman: Mason Monheim - He's still getting significant reps and playing full drives in the first half. But did you know: He was fifth on the team with 3.5 tackles last week, and was in on a quarterback sack. Kid is playing beyond his years.

Fresh to death shout out: To Dami Ayoola, for his seven carries and 21 yards. To Justin Hardee, for his first career catch. To V'Angelo Bentley, for playing and having a top three-ranked first name on the team.



Illini Inquirer Top Stories