Signing Day Spotlight: Nate Hobbs

A coaching change opened things up for Louisville (KY) Male CB Nate Hobbs, but good scouting and Lovie Smith sealed the deal for the rangy CB. Illini Inquirer's Jeremy Werner and Ryan Easterling take a closer look at what the Illini are getting in the under-the-radar signee.

Ryan Easterling’s Scouting Report

Reminds me of: Former Illinois DB and Detroit Lions safety Tavon Wilson.  Hobbs is likely a bit faster than Wilson, but like the former Illini, he’s basically a corner in a safety’s body.  Hobbs is built exceptionally well and fits the exact profile that Lovie Smith likes in his cornerbacks.  He may not be quite as big as Peanut Tillman was for the Bears, but Hobbs has great size, which should help him match up against physical receivers in the Big Ten.  


His quickness on breaks and ball skills when the ball is in the air make him reliable in man coverage.  Physically, he’s much like Jaylen Dunlap as far as size, and can carry another 10 pounds without him slowing down too much.  As open as the cornerback position will be within a year, Hobbs could very well see action as a true freshman.

First-year impact

It’ll be hard to keep Hobbs’ speed and athleticism off the field -- either on defense or on special teams. The Illini don’t have much Big Ten talent at cornerback. Senior Jaylen Dunlap has one starting spot, and Cameron Watkins likely enters spring as the favorite for the opposite side. The rest of the group is either not as long or not as fast as this staff wants. That’ll give Hobbs a good chance to see the field early. But his best chance might be as a returner, where his speed and agility will immediately make him one of the best candidates for the job.  - Jeremy Werner

Werner’s narrative

Hobbs is yet another example of how confident Illinois is in identifying -- and offering -- players that fit its schemes. Hobbs, formerly a Western Kentucky commit, didn’t have any other power-five offers or much power-five attention. But the Illini saw him at a camp and came back intrigued. They then saw him in person and digested more of his highly impressive senior film and pounced.’s evaluation -- he rose from a two-star prospect to the No. 41 cornerback in the Class of 2017 -- certainly confirms their evaluation and suggest they may have gotten a steal.


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