National Signing Day is about helping the Illinois soccer team find players who can fill in the gaps left by the previous coaching staff and outgoing players.
For the class of 2022, the Illinois did a great job meeting the need on the team. I would say the greatest need for orange and blue was in the quarterback position.
Illinois managed to win a talented quarterback in Donovan Leary. He is a 6 foot 2, 190 pound quarterback from Timber Creek High School and lives in Sicklerville, New Jersey. He is rated a three-star recruit and ranked # 1168 player in the class of 2022. He’s also the No. 71 quarterback in the nation and the No. 25 player from New Jersey.
Donovan isn’t the only Leary to step into the college ranks as quarterback. His brother Devin is the North Carolina state quarterback. Devin helped lead the Wolfpack to a 9-3 record that season, throwing 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Dreams come true! #famILLy @IlliniFootball pic.twitter.com/aXW7FdIEvf
– Donovan Leary (@ D_leary2) December 15, 2021
But Devin wants to go his own way. With talented blood clearly flowing in his veins, Leary is now starting his career in Illinois and is the first quarterback Bret Bielema to recruit from high school in Champaign.
Fortunately, Leary doesn’t have to be thrown early on to the wolves. Bielema was also able to secure a transfer commitment from Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito. DeVito won’t appear in the recruitment rankings, but he’s a solid, stabilizing presence behind the center. DeVito will be in control for a season while his backup prepares for the future.
Quarterback isn’t the only Illinois football position addressed on National Signing Day.
While I love what the Illinois did in the quarterback room, I think they got a home run in two other positions that were a huge need.
The offensive for the 2022 campaign will be interesting. Illinois lost all of its starting five offensive linemen last season, so the experience will be a big question mark for the program.
However, Bielema and the Illinois coaching staff had a plan. They were able to enter the 2022 class and get hold of six offensive linemen. These six pigs will join other offensive linemen like Josh Kreutz, Brody Wisecarver, and Alex Philstrom ahead of time.
I’m also happy with the way Illinois has addressed its need for outside linebackers. The loss of Isaiah Gay and Owen Carney Jr. will hurt this Illinois defense. But Illinois brings in some talented linebackers to fill in those gaps.
Jared Badie is the highest rated recruit for the 2022 Illinois class. Joining the Outside Linebacker group, he could make a difference in the first year. Illinois could also turn over Gabriel Jacas from Tulane. It should provide great depth in the outer linebacker position.
Even if they didn’t play outside the linebacker from the start, Illinois secured two more linebackers in Malachi Hood and James Kreutz. The more bodies in the middle of the defense, the better.
Illinois addressed some of my major concerns with the 2022 class. This is a great group to come in and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.