Signee Spotlight: Deon Pate

Illini Inquirer's Ryan Easterling and Jeremy Werner break down what late addition, Florida DL Deon Pate will bring to the Illini.

Ryan Easterling’s Scouting Report

Reminds me of: Chunky Clements. Pate is a 'tweener on the defensive line, with the body of a defensive end, but the ability and mindset of a defensive tackle.  In a lot of ways, he's reminiscent of former Illini DT Jarrod "Chunky" Clements.

Pate's tape shows him consistently getting penetration in the pass rush from both interior and outside alignments.  His go-to move appears to be a swim move, which is successful for him more times than not.

Once he makes contact, Pate does a great job of wrapping up on his tackles, and he is conscious about trying to rip the ball loose when he gets an opportunity.  He isn't the most explosive athlete, but Pate makes up for it with a relentless motor and determination on every snap.

If he does move to defensive tackle at the next level, how much will the added weight affect his abilities? That is yet to be seen, but if he can have a similar impact as Chunky Clements, he could be a guy whose name you hear called a lot about 2-3 years from now.

First-year impact

Pate may eventually grow into a defensive tackle, but he will start out at strongside defensive end. He already has the size to play the position, though he’ll need to continue to add strength. While Pate probably doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as Oladipo (who is longer and more athletic), he may be more ready to play immediately because he has more refined technique and handwork. Given the lack of proven options at defensive end, Pate will have the opportunity to compete for playing time.  - Jeremy Werner

Werner’s narrative

Every power-five program steals lower-level programs’ recruits close to Signing Day -- even Lovie Smith’s Illini. Pate had been committed to Appalachian State since late July. But Rutgers offered in November, followed by Illinois in December. After missing on some other priorities, Illinois moved down its list to Pate to fill a big need for some big, physical bodies on the defensive line. There’s always a bigger fish.

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