Signee Spotlight: Dawson DeGroot

Illini Inquirer's Ryan Easterling and Jeremy Werner break down what impact Florida safety Dawson DeGroot will make at Illinois

Ryan Easterling’s Scouting Report

Reminds me of: Clayton Fejedelem. FEJ was a hard-hitting downhill run supporter who sometimes got bit by overpursuit on play action, but when he was right, he hit.. and he hit hard.

If DeGroot gets a clear path on a hit moving downhill, look out.  A hard-hitting safety out of Florida, DeGroot doesn't often go backwards when making a tackle.  And if the offensive player isn't careful, he can get caught in a bad way by a de-cleater.

DeGroot builds up a good head of steam when coming downhill at the ball-carrier.  He does a good job of breaking on the ball once the pass is in the air, however his first step could likely be a little bit faster.  DeGroot is also a skilled receiver, so he has the hands to give himself a chance to come down with an interception.

He will need to improve upon his change of direction as he can at times get turned around and lose a step on the offensive players.  But if he can be used at Illinois in a way similar to Fejedelem, he could be in line to be an impact player and force turnovers.

First-year impact

Like Bennett Williams, DeGroot adds much-needed depth at the backend of the secondary, only at strong safety. Sophomore Patrick Nelson will return as the starter and junior Julian Hylton -- who has some starting experience -- should be the primary backup. That should allow DeGroot to redshirt, add strength and develop. Though he could be an immediate standout on special teams. - Jeremy Werner

Werner’s narrative

Illini fans can’t complain if other schools try to come in and steal their recruits, because Illinois does it too. Illinois offered DeGroot just an hour or two after he committed to Butch Davis and FIU. Just days later he decommitted from FIU and committed to the Illini. That’s a tough beat. Hey, all’s fair in love and recruiting?

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