The 90 Illini #90: Zach Aamland

Jun 6, 2023

As I'm typing this I'm realizing that I'm already one day behind. I used to make it so the final player was published on the day of the last game, but then there would be other countdowns that would say "37 days until Illini football!" and I'd be on #38. So in the last few years I changed so that #1 was published the day before the first game (making it a true countdown). And then I forget about that and here I am publishing #90 when there are 89 days until the first game.

All of this aligns so well with being me. What a perfect way to start.

90. Zach Aamland

Offensive Lineman
Uniform number: not yet known
Year in school: True Freshman (5 years to play 4)
Height: 6'-6" -- Weight: 290 lbs.
Hometown: South Brunswick, New Jersey
High School: The Hun School
Five best offers: Pitt, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Louisville
Tom Cruise rating: Would you believe I haven't rated him yet? You would? You should.


My first thought is that this is the second Bielema player recruited from The Hun School in New Jersey. Tight end Owen Anderson last year, offensive lineman Zach Aamland this year. I want to say that The Hun School is somewhat associated with Princeton? Kind of like how Uni High is associated with UIUC? Now I need to look this up.

OK so it's in Princeton, New Jersey, not associated with Princeton University. Looks like it's a private boarding school in Princeton, NJ. Going to a boarding school would be weird in high school. None of this has anything to do with anything.

It looks like Aamland took two visits - Illinois and Pittsburgh - before deciding on Illinois. Actually, looking at his recruiting timeline, it looks like he picked Illinois, then visited Illinois and Pittsburgh, and then decided to stick with Illinois.

2023 Outlook

I put Aamland down here at #90 (which means he's behind five walkons because The 90 Illini is always the 85 scholarship players + 5 walkons) mostly because this staff seems set on redshirting offensive linemen. We've only really seen them do that with two classes (Gesky-Barlev-Kreutz and then last year's class), but given their reliance on older offensive linemen (they're not turning to freshmen and sophomores like Lovie's staff did - they're bringing in jucos until those freshmen and sophomore are over the age of 21), I think it's a near certainty that most of the 2023 OL class will redshirt.

Which means that Aamland, who just arrived on campus this week, is overwhelmingly likely to redshirt. The staff added two more juco offensive linemen in this class (Dez'Mond Schuster and Will Leys), and both jucos from last year return (Isaiah Adams and Zy Crisler), and Julian Pearl and Jordyn Slaughter are still here, and the third-year guys like Josh Gesky, Zach Barlev, and Josh Kreutz are probably ready to make a contribution, so yeah, Aamland is likely a redshirt.

I should note that putting him here at #90 doesn't say anything about his potential contributions in the future. The 90 Illini is a ranking of the ninety most important Illini for the upcoming season. For Aamland, he's behind all of the guys on the list above (as well as the guys in the 2022 class, as well as the two offensive linemen in his own class who enrolled early back in January and have a head start on him), so that drops Zach all the way down to 90. The goal: 90th now, then 70th next year, then 50th, then 30th. And by 2027, as a redshirt senior, hopefully he's 10th on this list.


Leechcass on June 9, 2023 @ 02:38 AM

I love it! Everybody wants to point to Chase as the reason for The Illini's success last year. Huh? Let Bielema be Bielema. Grow those linemen!! That is how he has had 15 1000 yard rushers in 14 years. "Gee, could it be thatour Big Uglies are bigger than their big uglies? That other guy with caloused fingertips has been telling us for DECADES, "You can't put youger weaker, 18 year old out there against big, strong 22 yr olds and expect to win. Mike Leach,.."That's where the game is played. In the line. Where all the spit, snot and blood is." (I kinda paraphrase) I'm glad to see in these few days before our big recruiting push in June that we have some big guys looking at us. I love the attention from the DBs, but, Whoa, we can't run a 3-8 scheme and expect to win!

on July 3, 2023 @ 03:59 PM


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