The 90 Illini #62: Bryce Barnes


Robert
Jun 30, 2021
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2 Comments

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OK so here's my plan. Eight players announced transfers yesterday. One of those players hadn't made the cut of the top-90 on this list. Three of the players were already covered. Four of the players were still to come and have now been removed. So I simply removed those players and then slid everyone up.

That means that seven other players just "made" The 90 Illini. Prince Green is technically no longer #90 - he's 83. I had ranked the players from 1 to 119, so I have a list of the players who have now moved into The 90 Illini. Let's cover those real quick. Prince Green moves from 90 to 83 and then...

84. Sed McConnell - With the departure of Tre'Von Riggins, McConnell really should move up to 70-something. Because he's now much more likely to play on the defensive line.
85. DJ Johnson - He was listed at OLB when added yesterday (that was my guess, but I didn't know). OLB means "edge rusher" in this scheme, and there's a need there, so this one will be interesting to watch.
86. Ryan Meed - Walkon linebacker played in four games in 2019 (and then redshirted) and played in four games in 2020. Since last year didn't count he's still just a freshman walkon this fall.
87. Josh Kreutz - Son of Olin, probably the future starting center, but this year, with Doug Kramer back for one more year and several backup options, Kreutz is a near certain redshirt.
88. Preston Engel - Walkon offensive lineman (and son of Greg) who dropped weight and moved to tight end in the spring. Blocking tight ends are very much needed (which is why so many walkons are moving there).
89. Kenenna Odeluga - Incoming "ATH" recruit was listed as a linebacker on the roster release yesterday. That was his likely landing spot, but now we know for certain that he will start out at linebacker.
90. Zach Barlev - With four offensive linemen departing yesterday (Tyler, Sparks, Griffin, and Jones), incoming linemen Barlev and Josh Gesky just moved up several spots on the depth chart by default.

Just missing the cut: punter Hugh Robertson (he'll go from #91 to #30 next year after Blake Hayes graduates) and safety Joriell Washington (he enrolled early but had surgery and is rehabbing - Bielema made it sound like it would be a long process).

Now you're caught up. I just published the Josh Plohr 90i post, and he was at #67 at the time. Now he's #63. And at 62 we find...

62. Bryce Barnes

Outside Linebacker
Uniform number: 48
Year in school: Sophomore walkon (without the Covid waiver, 3 years to play 2; with the Covid waiver, technically 4 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-2" -- Weight: 270 lbs.
Hometown: Gibson City, Illinois
High School: GCMS HS
Five best offers: n/a - walkon
Tom Cruise rating: n/a - walkon

2020 statistics: Played in all 8 games, starting two at Defensive Tackle.

Background

How many players do you know that have taken the TE-DT-OLB route? There can't be many. I'm also certain that Barnes is the first Illini player who fits this description:

1st year: tight end
2nd year: defensive tackle
3rd year: outside linebacker

He's also one of the few true sophomores on the roster because nearly all of the 2019 class redshirted. He would be a true junior, but last year didn't count, so Bryce Barnes (plus Tarique Barnes, Devin Witherspoon, and Dalevon Campbell) are all true sophomores. They played immediately in 2019 and entered last season as 4-to-play-3 players. Then last year didn't count so they're all 4-to-play-3 again (while the other 2019 recruits who redshirted, like Isaiah Williams and Keith Randolph, are all 4-to-play-4 again).

Barnes played in every game the last two seasons. That's him on the field in that photo above after Jimmy-Boy McCourt's game winning FG against Wisconsin (in FG formation, Barnes blocked one edge, Griffin Palmer blocked the other edge). It says a lot that only a few freshmen played in 2019, and that list included Barnes, a walkon.

Last year, the staff bulked him up to play defensive tackle. This year, with a new scheme, he's now listed on the roster as an outside linebacker (which is more DE than LB).

2021 Outlook

He bulked up from 245 to 270 last year to play DT. So I'm curious what they'll do with him this year. The two starting edge guys, Owen Carney and Isaiah Gay, are listed at 240 and 265, so maybe they'll have Barnes drop down to 255 or something if he's going to be an OLB.

It might sound like a bad thing that Barnes is going to his third position in three years, but for a walkon, that's actually a good thing. He played immediately as a freshman (always a good sign for a walkon), then they moved him to a position where his lower body strength could benefit the team, now there's a scheme change and he moves to a third position. My guess: this is a learning year at his new position and then he's a regular contributor in 2022 and 2023.

Or he moves to wide receiver in 2022 and then safety in 2023 and becomes the first Illini player to play five seasons at five positions.

Comments

djchi on July 1, 2021 @ 08:32 AM

The good news here is you picked up four vacation days.

MinnIllini on July 3, 2021 @ 05:23 PM

Reminds me of Fred Wakefield’s journey in the NFL. DE to OT to TE or something along those lines. One of my fave all-time Illini.

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