Looks Like University Of Illinois - Jacob Hollins
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