Looks Like University Of Illinois - Jack Badovinac

May 28, 2021

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I swore I already wrote this one. But I see that I only referenced him in two other posts (with my theory that the plan here is a redshirt) and I've never written the LLUOI. This one won't be very long, I don't think, because it seems fairly simple to me. He has a redshirt year to use, so use it this fall and then have him replace Doug Kramer at center in 2022.

At least I think that's the plan. Maybe I should just go find what I wrote about him before and start with that. I remain a bit blown away by the scholarship numbers on the offensive line (even after the super seniors leave), so here's what I wrote about it in this post.

This summer, a transfer arrives from Colgate (Jack Badovinac). My theory is that Badovinac plans to redshirt this fall (he can play in up to four games) as Doug Kramer's backup at center and then try to win the starting center job in 2022. So let's add him to the 2022 roster.

That means the scholarship offensive linemen (not counting the walkons) for the first game in 2022 looks like this. Please note that the year I'm listing (SR, JR, SO, or FR) is for 2022, not 2021. So 16 months from now.

Jack Badovinac (SR)
Alex Pihlstrom (SR)
Verdis Brown (JR)
Julian Pearl (JR)
Jordyn Slaughter (JR)
Evan Kirts (SO)
Josh Plohr (SO)
Moses Okpala (SO)
Phifer Griffin (SO)
Brevyn Jones (SO)
Blaise Sparks (SO)
Kevin Tyler (SO)
Zach Barlev (r-FR)
Josh Gesky (r-FR)
Josh Kreutz (r-FR)
Brody Wisecarver (r-FR)
Clayton Leonard (FR)
Joey Okla (FR)
Hunter Whiitenack (FR)

You like to keep 15 offensive linemen on scholarship. Some teams go higher than that, but when you do, you have to take away one scholarship from another position. Maybe you run with 4 scholarship QB's instead of five. Maybe two less linebackers than other programs carry. There's flexibility, but if you carry more than the "standard", you have to find the scholarships elsewhere. Everyone is capped at 85.

If we're at 19 right now (with offers still out to many of our "top" OL targets), well, that pretty much only means one thing. Attrition is coming. One way to look at that: attrition happens when there's new coaches and this is to be expected. Another way to look at that: they're not too keen on the 16 scholarship linemen they already have for 2022 and they're going to bring in a large OL class to start the OL rebuild immediately.

If you just skimmed that I want to emphasize again that it's the 2022 OL, not the 2021 OL. That's when the scholarship limit drops down to 85 again (after 2021 which has no scholarship limit). And as of now, if Badovinac is truly a redshirt guy, we're at 19 scholarship offensive linemen for 2022. That's a lot.

Why do I think Badovinac is a redshirt candidate? I'll walk you through it.

In high school, Badovinac played at Loyola Academy for former Illini linebacker John Holocek. He chose Colgate and started his college career in 2017 in the Patriot League. In his fourth game as a true freshman, he's moved into the starting lineup and starts the final eight games. So, no redshirt.

He then starts all games in 2018 and 2019. So he enters this past season at Colgate as a true senior - 2 years to play 1 more season per the NCAA guidelines. He does play for Colgate in 2020 (actually, 2021) during their spring season, but they only had four games on the schedule and two of them were canceled. None of that matters when it comes to NCAA Eligibility, of course, because 2020 didn't count towards years or seasons. He was 2-to-play-1 coming into 2020, so he's 2-to-play-1 coming into 2021.

That's why I think he's being recruited for 2022. He projects as a center at this level (mostly due to his height which is listed as 6'-2" and probably means 6'-0'), and this season, there's a 4-year starter returning at center. He's not going to beat out Doug Kramer.

So then you say "maybe they want him for one of the guard spots this season". But there's a logjam there as well. Blake Jeresaty transferred in from Wofford, missed last season after shoulder surgery, and will play his one season in 2021. Verdis Brown started all of last season at right guard. Alex Pihlstrom was the starting right guard in the spring game. So at best, Badovinac would enter 2021 as the fifth interior lineman (behind guys competing for three starting spots).

But after 2021, Kramer and Jeresaty will graduate, meaning the competition for the starting center spot will be wide open. It's my belief that this transfer for Badovinac will be all about trying to win that 2022 starting center job. He can even play in four games this fall (maybe filling in if there's an injury), then shut it down and take a redshirt. In 2022, push for the starting center spot.

How good is he? It's very hard to say. Patriot League is on the lower end of FCS (sorry, Patriot League fans), so he's been playing at the lowest level of Division I football. Let me try to explain that a little better.

Division I is divided into FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) and FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). In the FBS, there are two tiers - Power Five and Group Of Five. Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big 12, and Pac 12 over here, MAC, Sun Belt, AAC, Conference USA, and Mountain West over here. You'll often see players transfer "down" to a G5 school (or "up" to a P5 school). I linebacker isn't cutting it a Nebraska so he transfers to Georgia Southern and gets playing time there (or vice versa). We'll see a lot more of this now that the transfer sit-out year has been removed.

We also see players transfer down to FCS (and up from FCS). But FCS isn't really monolithic. There are tiers there as well. A player in the Missouri Valley Conference is playing a much higher level of football than a player in the Patriot League. Think of the MVC like the SEC (North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Illinois State) and think of the Patriot League like the MAC. There are good players everywhere, and you'll see players drafted out of Division III - I'm just saying that when you get a player from the FCS, there's a different between the level of competition that Wofford plays (Jeresaty) and the level of competition that Colgate plays (Badovinac). It's not some massive difference, but it's worth noting.

Now, Badovinac was really good for his level. First-team All Conference for three consecutive seasons. Named to the Colgate All Decade Team. Might have been the single best offensive lineman in the entire Patriot League. And now he wants to return to his home state to give P5 football a shot.

I think that 2021 recruit Josh Kreutz is the center of the future, but he arrives this fall and would only be a redshirt freshman in the fall of 2022. So I really like the idea of Badovinac redshirting in 2021, being the starting center in 2022, and then Kreutz takes over as a third-year player in 2023.

Film? There's not much I can find. And I feel like I have enough information here to decide on the number of Tom Cruises. This is an all-conference Patriot League lineman who wants to give P5 football a shot. That's two leapfrogs: jump over upper-end FCS, jump over G5, and land at a P5 school where he'll have to take on a 4-star Michigan defensive tackle who will be in the NFL soon. I was a big fan of the Jeresaty move (partly because he held his own when I watched the Wofford/Clemson game), and I like this move to shore up the center spot, but I can't go as many Tom Cruises as I did with Jeresaty. Blake got three Cruises, so for Jack I'm going with...

Jack Badovinac. Two and one-quarter Tom Cruises.


Douglascountyillinifan on May 29, 2021 @ 10:49 AM

The Quarter TC has become your favorite weapon. :-) I think this is spot on. A year of being "tanked" should make him a solid candidate to start in 2022.

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