Official Depth Chart - Pre-SIU: Defense

A look at the Illinois defensive depth chart heading into the season opener against Southern Illinois.

First team:

DE: Tim Kynard
NT: Jake Howe
DT: Austin Teitsma
LEO: Houston Bates

WLB: Jonathan Brown
MLB: Mason Monheim
STAR: Mike Svetina OR Eric Finney

CB: V'Angelo Bentley
CB: Eaton Spence

SS: Earnest Thomas
FS: Taylor Barton

A few quick thoughts:

- The line is strong at the bookend spots, with Bates holding the potential to be a nuisance for offensive tackles and Kynard a solid senior. The interior though? Teistsma has 18 career tackles, Howe with two. You just read that and said, 'something to prove will provide good motivation' or, 'so, how is John Groce doing with Alexander'

- Linebacker, yes, is stacked.

- I expect Svetina to make the start or see the most time at Star. Even if Finney is ready to come back (I saw him working out Monday) from the knee injury, he's essentially missed all of August and the conditioning and installing and learning that comes with it. It will be good if he can get out there and play, but there has to be a difference between physically ready and game ready.

- No surprises in the secondary. Barton, although, is making me eat crow. Props go to him. I was wrong.

Second team:

DE: Kenny Nelson
NT: Robbie Bain
DT: Teko Powell LEO: Dejazz Woods

WLB: Zeph Grimes
MLB: T.J. Neal
STAR: James Crawford

CB: Jaylen Dunlap
CB: Darius Mosely
SS: Zane Petty
FS: Jevaris Little

- The surprise of the defensive depth chart is Bain. He came in as an offensive lineman and he may not have the most moves or the best technique, but from all I've heard, the dude has a motor that won't die and a work ethic that is unmatched. Those qualities have put him in the next-in-line category.

- I expect to see a lot of reps for Powell out there with the No. 1 unit.

- Abe Cajuste is listed with the threes, not exactly what most of us, including myself, figured even as late as last week. We'll see if this is a temporary thing for motivation or what the deal is. I still think he plays meaningful snaps.

- Grimes had a strong August. He's undersized, but he's another one of those effort-unmatched types. He did well when Brown went out for a week with the concussion.

_ Shoutout to the freshman Crawford -- he earned it. B.J. Bello is listed as the third string Star.

- Dunlap and Mosely are right there… Look for Caleb Day, listed behind Mosely to push for time as well.

- Petty is backing up Thomas, with Little, who can play corner or safety, at the free safety spot.

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