The 90 Illini #5: Doug Kramer
You have currently viewed 1 story this month.
IlliniBoard now offers two free stories per month, for more please subscribe.
It's December 2015. Doug Kramer is committed to Florida Atlantic. Bill Cubit has just been given a two year contract to be the interim coach while the school searches for an Athletic Director. In January, Cubit offers Kramer a grayshirt spot. That's recruiting for "we don't have a scholarship for you right now but if you come to school and pay your way for one semester while not playing football, we'll add you to the next recruiting class and you can join the team in January."
Kramer takes the grayshirt spot. Six weeks later, Cubit is fired and Lovie Smith is hired. Any grayshirt kid at a moment like that is thinking "uh, is the promise still good? I still get a spot on the team next January, right?". Lovie did him one better. After reviewing film and looking over his roster (and most importantly, after a few players left the program that May), Lovie offered Kramer a full-ride starting that fall. So instead of having to wait until January, he was on scholarship from his first day on campus.
He redshirted that season, and then, well, let's get to that...
5. Doug Kramer
Uniform number: 65
Year in school: Senior (1 year to play 1)
Height: 6'-2" -- Weight: 305 lbs.
Hometown: Hinsdale, Illinois
High School: Hinsdale Central HS
Best offers: Ball State, Florida Atlantic
Tom Cruise rating: n/a - was a grayshirt recruit
2020 statistics: Started five games. Missed two games due to Covid contact tracing and one game due to injury.
Let's pick up where I left off above. I remember Kramer being one of the few freshmen who dressed in 2016. If you remember, Lovie, coming from the NFL, only dressed a select number of players in 2016. Many times, the opposing sideline had more players in uniform than the Illinois sideline. The Illini players who were not playing (mostly sophomores, freshmen, and walkons) were in sweats and they weren't even allowed on team part of the sideline (the orange area). They'd stand between the 25 and the goal line and watch the game from there. I might be the only person who remembers that because I never hear it talked about.
Anyway, Kramer wasn't one of those guys. He was dressed. Which meant that there was a chance they'd use him if there was an injury. He wasn't, and he took a redshirt, but that's always a sign that a guy is working his way up the depth chart.
In 2017, that proved prophetic because by the end of the season he was the starting center. And he's held that spot for all three years after that. Which now extends to five years with the Covid waiver.
Not much else I can add. When we started here we were in December of 2015 and now it's August of 2021. It's been five years and eight months from there to here. Now he's a sixth-year senior starter at center who needs to be the quarterback of the offensive line.
When Kendrick Green was drafted by the Steelers back in April, Mel Kiper immediately pointed to Doug Kramer as the reason Green didn't play center in college (because Illinois had a better option at center). So now it's up to Kramer to go out and have a season that gets Kiper to talk about him this coming April as well.