Five Key Players in the Class of 2006

In their first column for, Ryan and Adam Forman look at five key players in the Class of 2006 that Ron Zook would like to secure verbal commitments from in his effort to rebuild the Illini football program.

CB Vontae Davis, Washington, Dunbar H.S.
Vontae is one of the top cornerbacks in the Eastern United States. He could have immediate impact, and would get a chance at a starting position. We have not had a good cover corner since Eugene Wilson, and Vontae could be the next one. He also comes from an athletic family - his brother Vernon is a top 3 TE in the nation at Maryland. Other schools in the mix: Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina.

OL Ramone Johnson, Chicago, Morgan Park H.S.
Johnson has been a huge target for the Illini for sometime now. He is the #1 OL prospect in the state and seems like an Illini lean right now. He has been to the U of I campus a number of times already and will be there again this weekend. A teammate of current Illini commit Chris James (WR), these two would be impact players within a year of arriving in Champaign.

DE / TE Jerry Brown, St. Louis, Vashon H.S.
Jerry was once an Illini verbal, and could still possibly commit. One day he wants to be an Illini, and the next he wants to be a Sooner or a Cornhusker. This decision will most likely not be set in stone until signing day. Brown is still an important piece to the Illini recruiting puzzle; there are not a lot of high schoolers out there with his size and speed. He's a perfect fit for a college DE, and would most likely play as a true freshman.

Editor's Note: Jerry visited Champaign this past weekend, and in a report from the Peoria Journal Star reaffirmed his commitment to Illinois.

DT Olufemi Ajiboye, Georgia, Banneker H.S.
This is probably the position the Illini are thinnest at right now (along with cornerbacks). This 290 pound tackle is a guy who can come in and immediately help at a position that was weak last year and lost one of its starters. He is quick and athletic for his size and makes many of his plays in the opponent's backfield. Olufemi, who plays with a mean streak, will be a great get if the Illini can pull him away from the other SEC suitors.

P Jared Armstrong, Harper C.C.
This year was a testament to how special teams can affect a game. You may laugh at the thought of a punter being an important recruit, but we can all remember how important Brad Maynard was for the Bears a couple years ago. Jared has a big leg and will help in the transition of losing Weatherford. Hopefully Zook can reel him in soon because the likes of Cal and USC are starting to place calls.

Wildcard: DT Moe Dampeer, Joliet J.C.
By now, we're sure many of you know the story behind this guy. Originally from Decatur, Dampeer choose Oklahoma coming out of high school. After some early issues there he transferred to Joliet J.C. He is a gigantic defensive tackle who could be a nice fit in an Illini defense that is thin at the tackle position. Other than grade and health issues, the main knock on him right now is his weight. Truth be told, he is probably closer to 400 pounds than 300. But is him being heavy necessarily a terrible thing? Remember when the Bears had Ted Washington eating up two offensive lineman to free up his fast linebackers to make plays? Although I am not comparing Remond Willis to Brian Urlacher, I think Dampeer could be a nice addition.

See you in Pasadena,
Ryan and Adam

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