Illinois Football: Illini will be okay after Nation and McGriff transfer – Writing Illini

The Illinois football team suffered a few transfers over the weekend.

Jeremy Werner of Scout broke the news that Tre Nation and MJ McGriff are both transferring from the Illinois football program. This news now leaves two more scholarships to be filled for the class of 2018.

Nation was a running back from the class of 2016. He was a player who was recruited by former head coach Bill Cubit. Cubit was only the head coach for about two months before new athletic director, Josh Whitman, took the job and fired Cubit to bring in Lovie Smith.

Coming out of high school, Nation was a three-star recruit who was the No. 1,026 player in the class of 2016 and the No. 38 player in the state of Alabama. Illinois will now be a running back short moving forward. But, Nation wasn’t the only transfer over the weekend.

Werner also announced MJ McGriff was also departing from the program. Cubit also signed him from the class of 2016. He was a two-star recruit who was the No. 2,553 player in the class of 2016 and the No. 369 player in the state of Florida. He was a lightning-quick 5-foot-8 player who had potential as a special teams specialist.

While losing both of these players hurts in terms of depth, it doesn’t really affect the roster too much. It would be nice to have more than six running backs currently on the roster, but Nation wouldn’t have seen playing time this season. Kendrick Foster, senior, will likely be starting with Reggie Corbin, sophomore, and Dre Brown, sophomore, coming off the bench behind him. Then you have Ra’Von Bonner and Mike Epstein coming in from the class of 2017 as well

Following Foster’s departure after this season, Corbin and Brown will take the leading role and who knows where Epstein and Bonner will be on the depth chart. They will likely get playing time to see how good they really are. That means Nation still would have been left on the bench as a junior. In addition to riding the pine, Nation was also recruited by Cubit, so a transfer makes sense.

McGriff’s transfer is completely understandable as well. He was recruited by Cubit, and he would have been lost on the depth chart. This season is pretty set at wide receiver and there is some talented youth on the team. Illinois has three extremely talented pass catchers coming in from the class of 2017, and there are a few great wide receivers already on the team. There would have been no playing time available except for on special teams.

Losing Nation and McGriff hurts depth for the future, but in all likelihood, they wouldn’t have seen the field in their time with the Illini. Illinois just has to move on now and continue building a solid class of 2018.

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