The Essential List: Jaylen Dunlap

A look at Jaylen Dunlap -- one of a select group of players essential to Illinois this spring.

Jaylen Dunlap - Cornerback - 6-1, 175, Sophomore

The Word: Raise your hand if you saw Dunlap emerging like he did as a freshman? Props to those you who forecasted that — you're in small company. Dunlap wasn't highly rated or heavily recruited coming out of high school, but he took fall camp by storm and kept the momentum throughout the season. Along with classmate Darius Mosely, Dunlap appeared in every game as a key reserve and nickel back.

2013: 26 tackles, one for loss, two passes defended, two pass breakups

Expectation: Dunlap should be gunning for a full-time starting gig this spring. He and Mosely pushed Eaton Spence and V'Angelo Bentley to brink last fall camp and stayed in the mix to start all season long. With a full year under his belt and in the midst of his first full offseason, Dunlap should be much better than the guy who showed so much raw potential last August. The jump players make from freshman year to sophomore is sometimes said to be the biggest. If that happens with this kid, he'll be starting.

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