Signee Spotlight: Jamal Woods

Illini Inquirer's Jeremy Werner and Ryan Easterling take a closer look at what the Illini are getting in the versatile Hueytown (Ala.) defensive lineman Jamal Woods

Ryan Easterling’s Scouting Report

Reminds me of: Will Davis. Davis, a 2-star out of high school, took some time to develop after getting to Illinois, but once he did, he was a very solid contributor, especially as a run defender, in his junior and senior seasons.  Woods, who is a hard, hard hitter, should be able to have similar success in run defense, but will need to improve in his pass rush.  He is built well, but isn’t as quick as other comparable defensive ends.  He is somewhat slow off the snap, but often has been able to make up for it so far with physicality at the line of scrimmage. Illinois graduated one of its better pairs of defensive ends in program history after the 2016 season, and the position otherwise was very thin, but Woods gives Illinois a defensive end that’s more or less configured to stop the run.  As he improves his technique, he could turn into a late bloomer who we talk about a lot in 2-3 years

First-year impact

Like every other defensive end in this class, Woods will have every opportunity to crack a rotation that has no proven players. Like Deon Pate -- and possibly Olalere Oladipo -- Woods projects as a strongside defensive end with the chance to move inside to defensive tackle in a year or two. Like the other defensive linemen in this class, it’d be a luxury to redshirt Woods. But given the huge holes at defensive end, it’s probably a luxury Illinois cannot afford.  - Jeremy Werner

Werner’s narrative

Alabama owns its state. It’s no surprise that the best college football program basically gets who it wants out of its own state, and Auburn usually gets the best of the rest. But Alabama actually is probably under-recruited a bit because of the Tide’s dominance. But like Florida or Texas, some of the leftovers in Alabama can be a feast for other programs. Illinois offensive coordinator Garrick McGee has great ties in Alabama after spending two years as head coach at Alabama-Birmingham. Illinois showed interest in several other Alabama prospects too, including OL Preston Mixon and RB/WR Jaylond Adams. Expect the Illini’s presence to continue to grow in The Yellowhammer State.

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