Illinois football adds six junior college players to roster


Henry Enyenihi, JUCO recruit, from Sacramento City College commits to Illinois on National Signing Day on Wednesday.

By Sean Neumann

Tim Beckman has said repeatedly that his coaching staff will continue recruiting junior college players to Illinois.

The Illini head football coach will add six more to the team’s roster in 2015.

Junior college transfers Sean Adesanya (defensive end), Andrew Davis (tight end), Jordan Fagan (offensive tackle), Connor Brennan (offensive guard), Ainslie Johnson (tight end) and Zach Heath (center) have officially signed letters of intent to play for Illinois.

Adesanya, Davis and Brennan are 3-star recruits, while Fagan, Heath and Johnson are 2-star recruits, according to 247sports. All the players will have two years of eligibility with the Illini, except Johnson, who transferred in as a senior.

Davis is another budding Illini player who transferred from Iowa Western Community College — a path wide receiver Geronimo Alison and former wide receiver Martize Barr also followed. 

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The junior tight end was ranked fourth among the nation’s tight ends. Davis and Johnson will help fill a hole in Illinois’ offense with tight ends Jon Davis and Matt LaCosse graduating.

Brennan, Fagan and Heath will also help fill offensive holes for coordinator Bill Cubit. Illinois is returning just four offensive lineman who played last season, while bringing up redshirt freshman Nick Allegretti who was the No. 11 ranked center in the country in last year’s recruiting class.

Beckman said Wednesday afternoon that the offensive line was one of the main focuses for this draft class.

“We’re getting better in every phase of life in this program,” Beckman said. “That’s something that’s becoming contagious.”

Illinois’ offensive line allowed 37 sacks last season and averaged just 117.1 rushing yards per game. Illini quarterbacks took injuring hits throughout the year. Regular season starter Wes Lunt went down with a fractured fibula in the team’s sixth game of the season, an injury that forced Cubit to use three quarterbacks throughout the year, having to pull Aaron Bailey from a redshirt position.

Adesanya (Eastern Arizona College), a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive lineman, was among the top-five Arizona recruits in this year’s recruiting class.

The junior transfer will be the third defensive lineman from junior college on Illinois’ current roster, following Jihad Ward and Joe Fotu.

The Illini defensive line averaged just 1.77 sacks per game last season. Illinois ranked last in the Big Ten in total and rushing defense, allowing 239.2 yards per game. The defense allowed 10 different running backs to earn more than 100 yards last season.

All six players were early enrollees at the University in the spring semester.

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter