The 90 Illini #47: Kerby Joseph

Jul 13, 2021

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With the transfer portal plus what I'm calling the "Covid waiver", some players are going to have a ton of different options after this season. One of the more interesting scenarios might be a player like Kerby Joseph who is a fourth-year junior yet has never used his redshirt year. Last year didn't "count", so he was a junior with 3 years to play 2 last year and he returns as a junior with 3 years to play 2 this year.

As we've been discussing, for all fourth-year guys like Joseph who will have gotten their four full years of the promised scholarship after this season, it will be up to the coaching staff if they're asked back for 2022 (or even 2023). So here's a list of the options for Kerby Joseph after this season.

  1. Play this year in Champaign, play next year, eligibility exhausted after five years.
  2. Redshirt this year in Champaign and then play in 2022 and 2023. Eligibility exhausted after six years in Champaign, five on the field (2020 didn't "count").
  3. Play this fall, then transfer somewhere else for a final season in 2022.
  4. Play in first four games this fall, then tell the coaches he plans to transfer and wants to stop after four games so he doesn't burn a year of eligibility. Transfer in the offseason and then play two more years somewhere else.

There's also several other options which are combinations of some of those. Or he could just get his degree and move on with life. But for someone who is a senior in school, a junior on the field, and has a redshirt year not used (not just at Illinois, but everywhere across college football), they get two more seasons on the field and they'll have three years to do it. If they're not heavily in the rotation this September, I think you're going to see a lot of portal entries after four games. Go ahead and use the redshirt year now, transfer, play two years elsewhere.

Combine the "four games and still redshirt" rule with the "you don't have to sit out a year when you transfer" rule and the "2020 didn't count" rule and everything gets really weird.

47. Kerby Joseph

Uniform number: 25
Year in school: Junior (without the Covid waiver, 2 years to play 1; with the Covid waiver, technically 3 years to play 2)
Height: 6'-1" -- Weight: 190 lbs.
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
High School: Jones HS
Five best offers: Mississippi State, Syracuse, South Florida, Florida Atlantic, Bowling Green
Tom Cruise rating:

2020 statistics: Played in 7 of the 8 games, 19 tackles.


Joseph has played everywhere. In the 2018 Hardy Nickerson defense, which was in nickel 85% of the time, he originally spent most of his time at nickel back. That meant he worked with the cornerbacks at practice, and I do remember him getting several reps at corner (not nickel but outside corner) during training camp in 2018.

Then, in 2019, with the changes Lovie made when taking over the coordinator spot (we were in nickel 5% of the time), Joseph was a safety. Last year he was moved to wide receiver. But early on in the season, with several injuries piling up at safety, he moved from WR back to safety.

If you're scoring at home, this is basically a 1-2-4-3 triple play. NB-CB-S-WR-S in only three years.

2021 Outlook

Safety is the spot this fall, I think. Well, probably. I guess I don't really know. Maybe he'll be at corner the first practice. Or wide receiver.

I think there's six safeties battling for position. The freshmen will arrive, and maybe one of them makes a statement, but I think it's these six: Sydney Brown, Quan Martin, Eddie Smith (Alabama transfer), Prather Hudson (Georgia transfer), Derrick Smith, and Kerby Joseph. I don't know how Ryan Walters will work his rotations (some coaches want their starters in there 95% of the time, some coaches keep players fresh and go 2/3rds starters, 1/3rd second string), but I think those six are battling for four spots.

New staff + new scheme + new safety duties = wide open competition.


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