Jeremy Werner

Signing Day Spotlight: Ra'Von Bonner

Despite a late push by a Big Ten program in his home state, Illinois has received the LOI for Ra'Von Bonner. Illini Inquirer's Jeremy Werner and Ryan Easterling take a closer look at what the Illini are getting in the Cincinnati (OH) Sycamore product.

Ryan Easterling’s Scouting Report

Reminds me of: Ray Rice (From a football perspective, only, just to be clear).  Ray Rice wasn’t the biggest or fastest guy in the world, but he was built like a brick (you-know-what) house and fought for every yard he got.  Rice was well known for his ability to be physical at the second level and break tackles while always keeping his legs moving.

Bonner had an exceptional senior campaign at Sycamore in which he used his physical brand of running and also good vision to rack up 2,122 yards and 34 touchdowns on the season.  Rice was well noted for carrying a heavy workload in college and in the pros.  Bonner has the ability to be an every-down back and should be a valuable asset as far as his ability to wear down a defense.  I will also say that Bonner is an extremely high-character individual, so this comparison to Rice does not extend into that area, as I do not have any similar concerns about Bonner’s actions.

First-year impact

With the departure of Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the Illini have a need for a third running back to emerge. Sophomore Tre Nation is a bigger back but lacks much wiggle or burst. Redshirt sophomore Dre Brown is still on the roster but following torn ACLs (one in each knee) during back-to-back springs, he is a big unknown. Bonner and Mike Epstein are a bit more versatile. Expect at least one to play a role, especially if an injury occurs ahead of them. - Jeremy Werner


Werner’s narrative

Bonner reminds me of a Wisconsin or Minnesota running back. Not a lot of flash, but he has the physical, power-run style that Garrick McGee wants to run at Illinois. Bonner also helps Illinois get into a city (Cincinnati) that it’d like to pluck a recruit or two from every year. Another bonus: Bonner is a high-character, culture-building guy who shares a strong faith with Lovie Smith. He has faith in the Illini too. Ohio State showed interest late in the process, but Bonner stayed true with the orange and blue.


Illini Inquirer Top Stories