Film Room: 5 Latest Illini Commits

Recruiting is hitting a frenetic pace for the Illini. Despite a handful of decommitments over the last few days, Illinois added a total of five players between Sunday and Monday. Here's a closer look at each of them with some film study.

Philadelphia (PA) DE Tymir Oliver:

Oliver's current body type allows him to grow into a defensive tackle, or lean up a bit and remain at defensive end.  We project him to grow into a defensive tackle, similar to the transition made by Jarrod "Chunky" Clements.

Oliver has a quick burst at the snap and uses strong leg drive to work his way through gaps in the line of scrimmage.  He lacks lateral quickness and change of direction, however those shouldn't be big issues if he plays mostly on the inside.

Oliver, in general is a high-motor player who plays a physical brand of football.  If he can maintain his burst and explosiveness while also adding 20 pounds, he will turn into a solid three-technique defensive tackle at Illinois.

Conyers (GA) DB Evan Jones:

I've already shared some of my assessment in other coverage of Jones' commitment, but Jones is a great athlete.  He reportedly runs a 40-yard dash in the 4.4's and, at 6'-2" 180 pounds, can fly around the field.  

He informed us that Illinois projects him to play cornerback.  Based on his senior film (below), he appears to be more comfortable as a free safety, where he can read and react to plays and fly to the ball.

He is a good form-tackler, wrapping up with textbook technique.  He is effective in shedding blockers and getting to the ball carrier.  If he does indeed play cornerback, I would like to see him be more aggressive in pressing his man at the line of scrimmage, as he appears to struggle a bit in coverage within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage.

Atlanta (GA) LB Christion Abercrombie:

This will be the second class in a row where the Illini will draw from Atlanta-area powerhouse program Westlake.  Westlake has produced several power-five conference commitments, but may be most notable for producing Super Bowl-bound quarterback Cam Newton.  

For Illinois, it is the second straight year in which they will sign a linebacker from Westlake.  Last year, it was Julian Jones, who the Illini flipped from Arkansas State.  This year, it's former Western Kentucky pledge Christion Abercrombie.

Abercrombie mostly played in the middle for his high school team, however he is somewhat similar to former Illinois linebacker Antonio Steele, a slightly undersized backer who played aggressively and make big hits in run support.  He has a nose for the football and disrupts plays near the line of scrimmage.

But he isn't just a run defender.  With the help of some talented players in the secondary like Jaden Hunter and AJ Terrell, Abercrombie diagnoses pass plays well, leading to several interceptions during bot his junior and senior seasons.  

Sugar Land (TX) OL Darta Lee

The former Houston commit is a big lineman who plays with a nasty streak.  A physical run blocker, Lee plays until the whistle and often won't let up on a block until his defender is pancaked to the turf.

Lee lined up at tackle for Hightower, but is probably an interior lineman at the next level.  He opens up solid running gaps and does a good job of getting to the second level and setting up blocks for run plays down field.

Lee moves well in a straight line, however, he will need to improve his ability to flow with the play.  Along those same lines, he will need to improve as a pull blocker, especially in an offense that runs a lot of bootleg plays like the Illinois offense.

Alexandria (VA) TE Andrew Trainer:

Trainer, the latest to commit to the Illini, gives Illinois much needed depth at the tight end position.  The former Virginia commit has a huge frame (6'-7", 235 pounds), which he uses to his advantage in mismatches with defenders. 

He isn't the fastest tight end out there, but he makes up for it with precise route running and an extremely good set of hands.  His film shows him catching several tough passes, including some in traffic.  He's a willing blocker and well-rounded tight end.

The big initiative in college for Trainer early on will be to add more strength and top end speed.  Once he adds to that large frame he has, he could be a serious weapon for the Illini in the passing game.  And after losing Tyler White to injury in 2015, the importance of having a tight end who can both block and catch consistently became very clear.

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