The 90 Illini #55: Marc Mondesir
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There's always that one player who benefits the most from a coaching change or scheme change. I always reference Nate Bussey when talking about this topic - lost safety in the 2009 defense to all-conference "stinger safety/OLB/5th DB" in Vic Koenning's defense - but there are other examples.
The 2013 offense is a good one. For whatever reason, the Bill Cubit offense fit Nathan Scheelhaase like a glove. The struggles of 2012 were gone and 2013 was a massive leap forward. Steve Hull switched from defense to offense and suddenly the passing game was revived.
Same with Reggie Corbin and the Rod Smith offense. Corbin had 78 yards rushing in 2017 under Garrick McGee... and then 1,085 yards in 2018. New coordinator, Corbin is the type of tailback he wants, almost overnight he goes from afterthought to all-conference.
So I always go looking for those players when there's a coaching change. In the 90 Illini for those years, I bet you can find at least seven "but this is a new scheme, so maybe this is where the light bulb comes on" references. And I don't plan on changing that any time soon. For example...
55. Marc Mondesir
Uniform number: 54
Year in school: Senior (1 year to play 1)
Height: 6'-2" -- Weight: 240 lbs.
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
High School: St. Rita HS
Five best offers: Wyoming, Northern Illinois, Illinois State
Tom Cruise rating:
2020 statistics: Played in 4 games, 3 tackles.
Mondesir was a camp offer. I believe it was a satellite camp up in Chicago? The way I remember it, there was a camp in St. Louis and Tony Adams got an immediate offer at the camp, and then there was a camp in Chicago and Marc Mondesir got an immediate offer, and then both picked Illinois (Adams over Missouri; Mondesir over Wyoming).
Then, for the last four years, Mondesir has been stuck between linebacker and defensive end. The classic tweener. Probably too small to play defensive end. Probably not fast enough to play 'backer. So he bounced back and forth between those two spots in his four years with Lovie.
Best case for Mondesir: the OLB position in this defense fits him like a glove. I've been calling the defense a "5-2" since the spring game (that's not really even a thing, by the way), with 5 linemen and two linebackers. It's technically a "3-4", with both of the outside linebackers acting as quasi-defensive ends. They don't have a hand in the dirt, so that makes them linebackers, but I'm gonna call them defensive ends. So the hope for Mondesir here is that after four years of being a tweener, his fifth year there's a position perfectly built for him.
Worst case for Mondesir: he's still in a tweener zone. Owen Carney is starting at one of the OLB spots, and he's 6'-3", 265 lbs. Mondesir, at 6'-2", 240 lbs, is a lot closer to inside linebacker Tarique Barnes (6'-1", 230 lbs) than he is Carney. So it might be that he just doesn't have the sideline-to-sideline speed to be an ILB and doesn't have the bulk to be OLB. Tween'd again.
Hopefully it's the best case here. I'll always hope for the best case.