It may not have a tremendous impact on this upcoming season for the Illinois Fighting Illini, but losing depth on the defensive line is never a good thing. Such is the case for the Illini this week as Paul James III has packed up his things and left the program and university. The exact reason for the sudden departure is unknown at this point in time, but what we do know is this is not good news for head coach Tim Beckman and the hot seat he sits upon.
As noted by The Champaign Room, the loss of James means Illinois has no projected starter at defensive end in 2016, unless you count an incoming freshman in the Illini Class of 2016. Right now the Illini have a two-star prospect in Joshua Black heading their way, but that is hardly enough to fill the void of talent.
James was a three-star recruit in the Illini Class of 2013 out of Miami, Florida. According to his Rivals ranking, he was the 20th-best strong side defensive end in the country and it was likely he would be filling a starting job in 2016, if not sooner. Not only will his loss have a negative impact on the 2016 defensive line, but it also cuts into the depth on the roster this season, and there was not much depth to begin with.