The 90 Illini #78: Josh McCray
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Feels like the front page gets too littered with 90i posts. I think I'm going to start putting them in the main feed down below and not the top four spots. We'll see how that goes. Some people only check the top post to see if they've read that one, so let's see if people will realize there's several posts they haven't read down here in the feed.
78. Josh McCray
Uniform number: n/a - true freshman
Year in school: True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Height: 6'-2" -- Weight: 220 lbs.
Hometown: Enterprise, Alabama
High School: Enterprise HS
Five best offers: Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky
Tom Cruise rating:
It's funny to read that LLUOI post. I see this 220 lb HS running back (who looks like he's at least 230) and my first thought is that there's no way they're recruiting him as a running back. My guess was linebacker, likely defensive line. Maybe the plan is for fullbacks in this offense and they want to make him a fullback. Because he's bigger than Jon Davis.
But now, six months later, having seen a bit of the offense in the spring, I think I get it. They want a big, Jason-Ford like back. Bielema has mentioned John Clay in reference to McCray (Clay was Wisconsin's 255 lb tailback), so I think I understand the thinking here now.
The biggest part of my education with this was Bret Bielema's signing day press conference. He told the story of McCray's high school coach, Jed Kennedy, and how Kennedy was Melvin Gordon's high school coach years ago when he was in Wisconsin. Kennedy contacted Bielema the day after he was hired and told him there was a running back at his new high school that Bielema should take a look at. That started the wheels in motion that ended up at "McCray to Illinois".
And in that presser, Bielema noted how he had to fight off the same suitors for McCray that he did for Melvin Gordon. My guess is that at least means Iowa (Melvin Gordon was committed to Iowa but eventually flipped to Wisconsin), but I'd really love to know what other suitors had come along trying to get McCray to flip in January after he verballed to Illinois (McCray couldn't sign until February 3rd).
The running back room is quite full, but there's no known short-yardage tailback. So if this staff will look at things like that (some just use the starter in short-yardage situations), there's a chance McCray could play this season.
Ra'Von Bonner was that tailback in the last few years, but he chose to opt out of last season (because of Covid) and eventually transferred to Temple. So if this is really a run-heavy offense, and if they're going to line up with three tight ends on third and two, maybe they'll use a bigger tailback for those moments. McCray will certainly be the biggest tailback on the roster.
Other than situational stuff, I'm guessing McCray enters at the back of the line. I think Chase Brown and Mike Epstein will be the two main tailbacks again, and I think ECU transfer Chase Hayden and second-year tailback Reggie Love III will battle for the third-most carries. If there's a fifth tailback to get carries, it's a battle between Kyron Cumby and Jakari Norwood. So that puts McCray in the back row with Nick Fedanzo, trying to work his way into the rotation.