Looks Like University Of Illinois - Jacob Hollins

Mar 09, 2018

Maybe I just don't understand what they're looking for in linebackers. I feel like I "get it" with all of the other recruits, but with linebackers, I'm constantly scratching my head. Here are the high school linebackers that Lovie has brought in so far (in both the 2017 and 2018 classes) and my rankings for each:

Marc Mondesir - 1.5 Tom Cruises
James Knight - 2 Tom Cruises
Khalan Tolson - 2.5 Tom Cruises
Jacob Hollins (spoiler alert) - 1.5 Tom Cruises

This is the year where I'll have Tom Cruised the entire roster (I started it in 2014, so I think Mikey Dudek, Nick Allegretti, and Austin Roberts are the only players on the roster who never received their very own LLUOI post). And if I went back through all of the Tom Cruises, I'm guessing linebacker would have the lowest average. And that's especially true of the four Lovie linebacker recruits.

I understood the Ayodele Adeoye thing (a player we chased and chased but who eventually stuck with Texas). While at first skeptical, when watching Merlin Robertson in the Under Armour All American game, I totally could see what we were chasing there (he eventually picked Arizona State). But I just didn't see it with Tolson and I just don't see it with Hollins.

Now, that's not to say Hollins isn't an important recruit. With Ayodele and Robertson going elsewhere, we HAD to find another linebacker in January and, after some nervousness that he'd stick with hometown Fresno State, we did land a signature from Hollins. This class absolutely had to have two linebackers and we found them in Tolson and Hollins. That's a lot better than, say, recruiting in 2010 and 2011 where we struck out on defensive backs and then were left to scramble in 2013, converting wide receivers and linebackers and playing true freshmen. We needed players there, we landed players there.

Unfortunately, Hollins and Tolson will probably forever be compared with Ayodele's career at Texas and Robertson's career at Arizona State (and maybe Fa'Najae Gotay, a linebacker from Florida who visited in December but eventually picked Maryland). Those were the plan A targets, we didn't land them, Hollins was the Plan B target.

I think it's watching film that leaves me confused. I guess I was expecting Lovie to go speed speed speed when he looked at linebackers. Sacrifice size for speed. Speed is what matters (I thought).

That's not Hollins (or Tolson). They're not slow, but they're not the kind of big burners I thought Lovie was looking for. Which is why I began this post with "maybe I don't know what they're looking for". Because maybe I don't know what they're looking for.

Hollins is the bigger, bulkier, once-he-adds-25-lbs-is-he-still-a-linebacker kind of linebacker. Maybe he's playing "up" at a weight for high school and they'll chisel him down to a different weight for college ball. But he looks to be around 225 in this film, and that usually correlates to 240-250 in college, so I'm not sure where we're going with this.

I will say this, though: he has one of the better opportunities to play as a true freshman. Linebacker is wide, wide open. It was very obvious last year that they didn't think they had the kind of linebackers they wanted (and many of them transferred after the season). So the kids are going to get a shot. Be ready Jacob Hollins.

But I still can't go any more than 1.5 Tom Cruises. Especially with a kid who decommitted from Idaho and picked Illinois over Fresno State. This is probably a Group Of Five linebacker we're trying to get to play in the Big Ten. Good luck, kid.

Jacob Hollins - One and one-half Tom Cruises


Sweetchuck13 on March 09 @ 11:43 AM CST

I really like Tolson - I'm hoping he surprises some people right away.

orangejulius on March 09 @ 04:19 PM CST

It is kind of sad that a coach who led the Bears to the Super Bowl, and who is known for his defense, and who coached Bryan Urlacher, can't recruit linebackers to the alma mater of Dick Butkus. Sigh.

HiggsBoson on March 09 @ 08:26 PM CST

And runs off half the ones he does get.

Boneyard Surfer on March 09 @ 11:23 PM CST

"a kid who decommitted from Idaho and picked Illinois over Fresno State"

Fresno State, a program that would most likely beat the Illini most years of the past ten....

Bear8287 on March 11 @ 11:13 PM CDT

Yeah, well you have at least two meetings in the last 10 years to back that up:
2009: Illinois 52, Fresno St. 53
2010: Illinois 23, Fresno St. 25
and 2010 was even a bowl year and ties with 2011 for best season in the last 10 years with a 7-6 overall record and a bowl win.

John Case on March 10 @ 12:15 PM CST

This is a miseval on your part Robert. This is a good prospect. Lovie wants guys on D that can tackle in space. Watch the kids film again. Great reads. Gets to ball carriers quickly in space. Can handle an Olineman trying to block the second level or can just get there ahead of the block. The loss in this class was DayDay Coleman. Thats the perfect LB for Lovie. Kid made a mistake. Lovie would have featured him with the scheme IMO. But Hollins is a good get. When can we start talking about moving Isaah Gay to LB? There's your Lance Briggs.

orangejulius on March 10 @ 02:50 PM CST

Then how do you explain his offer list. He's clearly a fallback recruit who faces long odds to succeed at the Big Ten level. And there's too many guys like that in this class. Lovie is being paid to do better; he has got to do better.

orangejulius on March 10 @ 03:48 PM CST

And.. as I posted that Lovie gets a commitment from one of the best recruits in history of the school. Now that's more like it! Awesome.

John Case on March 10 @ 04:04 PM CST

There's stuff I don't like in this recruiting class. Hollins, I do like. His film is really nice. Sydney Browns film is fantastic. His offer list was weak. I'm more concernced with players like Julian Pearl on film than I am with a player like this. I wish we were having some more success at the RB position recruiting and that we got the Coleman kid from Dallas. Otherwise, I think you've got a nice blend of prospects and projects.

Groundhogday on March 10 @ 04:24 PM CST

Watching his film and then reading about how much he had grown over the past two years, I wonder whether he might grow into a weakside DE in this defense.

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