The 90 Illini #12: Alex Palczewski


Robert
Aug 17, 2021
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I took that photo at Rutgers when Palcho returned to the field. He had gone down with an injury, was helped off the field, and returned later on crutches. At that point, we kind of knew what it was, but we didn't want to admit what it was. It was. Torn ACL, out for the year.

Palcho then used that photo in this tweet right as 2020 turned to 2021:

We are now on the other side. And I would love for Palcho's 5th year to be his best.

12. Alex Palczewski

Offensive Lineman
Uniform number: 63
Year in school: Senior (1 year to play 1)
Height: 6'-6" -- Weight: 315 lbs.
Hometown: Mount Prospect, Illinois
High School: Prospect HS
Best offers: Vanderbilt, Syracuse
Tom Cruise rating:

2020 statistics: Started the first four games, but an ACL injury against Rutgers ended his season.

Background

Palcho is the player I reference when there's a senior-year high school breakout. Completely unknown until his senior fall. Meaning, if Palcho was a 2022 recruit, he wouldn't even have a Rivals or 247 profile page yet. Here's how it went.

Palcho had a neck injury and missed his junior year of high school football. So he wasn't on anyone's radar. I'm not sure he had even played a varsity game yet. If it was August 2016 and you went looking or the top 30 offensive linemen in the state of Illinois, he wouldn't be on there (even though he was one of the top three).

Then, that fall, there's buzz building about an offensive lineman at Prospect. A kid who didn't play his junior season but looks like a college player his senior year. Illinois offers, Syracuse offers, Vanderbilt offers, and he picks Illinois. Somewhere in Chicagoland, there's a kid exactly like this who will emerge onto the scene this fall. Actually, given that the spring high school season in Illinois was a maximum of six games (with many high schools only playing three or four games), there's probably four or five kids in Chicagoland who will emerge onto the scene this fall.

2021 Outlook

This all rests on his rehab. Palcho's surgery was on December 8th. So as of last Sunday, he reached 8 months since surgery. If you're one who believes that nine months is the magical "now the knee is 100%" mark, then Palcho will reach that plateau three days before the Virginia game.

So far in camp, he's on an every-other-day schedule. They don't want to stress the knee too much. I'm sure as the Nebraska game approaches, they'll slowly start to ramp him up until he's ready. But if there are any setbacks at all (even if it's some unexpected swelling or something), I'm guessing they take it easy these first few weeks.

If he's 100%, then he's where he's been the last four seasons - in the starting lineup. If there's any "won't be 100% until October 1" to this, then he'll be limited in September. So while he feels like a top-10 player, I have him down here at 12. Here's hoping for 100% health.

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