The Illini graduate several defensive linemen at the end of the 2016 season, especially at defensive end, so reloading at the position is a must in the 2017 recruiting class. The commitment of Huntley (IL) defensive end Olalere Oladipo is big for a number of reasons. We put the film on and took a look at just what the Illini landed in the in-state lineman.
At First Glance:
Oladipo is every bit of 6'-4", 240 pounds with a very long wingspan. He has deceptive athleticism for a guy his size, which might have something to do with his history at both receiver and quarterback.
At the college level, Oladipo will benefit from a more structured strength and condition program, but that natural athleticism should allow him to carry his weight well and play effectively at 255-260 pounds.
Oladipo was a fairly unknown commodity before his junior season. He told Illini Inquirer this summer that that defensive line wasn't really even his focus until this past season, and that's when he found his niche.
On film, Oladipo shows great gap discipline and patience in reading plays. He reacts well to the ball and shows to be a consistent and sure tackler. For someone who wasn't exclusively a defensive player, his tackling technique is solid and reliable.
On the flip side, his film also shows signs of inexperience as far as defensive lineman technique is concerned, though many of those skills are developed over time and through experience. Oladipo's get-off on the snap can be inconsistent at times, though when he times the snap well, he is able to leverage his athleticism to beat his man around the edge. From time to time, Oladipo will also line up inside, but we expect him to play exclusively at defensive end.
But his biggest area of focus moving forward will have to be his defensive line technique. Oladipo doesn't show some of the same swim and rip moves that more seasoned defensive linemen have in their repertoires, and often relies on either a speed rush or a bull rush to beat his defender. That will be much tougher to do, especially in a conference like the Big Ten.
That being said, Oladipo is not only a hard worker, but also a smart player, so we aren't that concerned as to whether or not he will be able to pick up on these techniques quickly.
For many of the reasons above, a redshirt might be the optimal path forward for Oladipo, mainly so that he's fully prepared to enter the rotation without being overwhelmed. However, with Illinois' dwindling DL depth after this season, he may find himself forced into action early.
As of right now, Illinois will graduate starters Dawaune Smoot and Carroll Phillips at the SDE and WDE positions, respectively. The most experienced returner at DE will be Henry McGrew, who has seen only limited action in his Illini career. While Illinois hopes to land a couple more prospects at the position, potentially including a JUCO, Oladipo will likely have to prepare as if he will play next year.