By Steve Sturm - IlliniGuys Football Analyst
May 11, 2022
(Cover photo courtesy Furman Athletics)
Illinois made an important but low-key addition to its offensive line depth chart last week when Furman transfer Dylan Davis pledged to the Illini. The prior staff recruited Davis to Champaign as a defensive lineman but he chose Furman as his initial college choice. Davis started two games last fall as a redshirt freshman and played well enough to earn a spot on the Southern Conference All-Freshman team. However, Furman has two starting tackles returning so Davis entered the portal and Illinois decided to add him to the mix.
What does he bring to the Orange and Blue?
Most of these highlights are on the defensive side of the ball, so there isn't a whole lot to go on regarding Davis' offensive chops. However, what you'll see here is an above average athlete with an explosive burst and a nasty streak. His defensive highlights were good enough to warrant an offer from Iowa State and at least some interest from the Illini, so if you look at these clips and see a high major defensive lineman, you're not alone. Davis also starred as a wrestler, basketball player, and shot putter in high school.
Since Davis entered college he has added 25 pounds and presumably lost some of that burst and agility, but that size is what makes him attractive to the Illini because he has a mature enough body to fill in right away on the line. I've scoured the internet for more information about Davis' strengths and weaknesses while at Furman but there really doesn't appear to be much aside from the fact that he earned some playing time as a redshirt freshmen yet is slated behind two upperclassmen at Furman at the moment. So, we're all going to have to trust in the Illini coaches' evaluation of what little game film Davis provided at Furman.
How does he fit in?
Davis comes to Champaign with three seasons of eligibility remaining, so he's not just a depth piece for 2022,he's also a valuable addition for the future. Early reports have him playing on the interior, likely at guard, but I'm still holding out hope that he can be in the mix at tackle in the future and in high school he played some center as well. That means its virtually impossible to slot Davis into future depth charts because he could fit in almost anywhere, which is the real key to adding him. Davis gives the Illini a mature body with a little experience to an Illinois squad that just lost Brody Wisecarver and Josh Plohr from the depth chart.
Based on the Spring game, Illinois is lining up Julian Pearl and Alex Palczewski at tackle, Jordyn Slaughter and Isaiah Adams at guard and Alex Pihlstrom at center. Behind them in the rotation are Zy Crisler and Josh Kreutz, who are both just a year out of high school. After that group Bart Miller is going to be taking some risks as to who he would call upon. In fact, Illinois currently would only have 12 people in the offensive line meeting room and three of those people are walk ons (though I have to give a small shout out to Cronin and Zapf who are better than your average walk ons). If Illinois were to play the "barge" formation right now, Davis would likely be a part of it. There are five more incoming freshmen joining the group in the fall, but its highly unlikely that Illinois is going to count on any of that group for quality depth right away. So, while you might be a little non-plussed at the idea of adding a transfer from a low major who didn't get a whole lot of playing time and wasn't slated to start, Davis represents an important insurance policy that Illini Nation should appreciate. That's why I'm giving Davis a 4 out of 10 on the excitement scale. He might never play for Illinois this year, but we need him more than you might think. And hey, this is a guy who has experience at the most important position on the line in left tackle and could even revert back to the defensive line if things don't work out on offense in his three remaining years of eligibility. No one should run out and buy his jersey, but he's more important to the team than you might think.
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