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Illinois adds FCS standout as a transfer, at least the 10th such addition since March for the Fighting Illini

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The transfer roll for Illinois football has shown no signs of abating.  In fact, it’s picking up a notch.

Earlier this week, Daniel Imatorbhebhe committed to the Illinois football program.  The tight end had opted to transfer from USC earlier this offseason.

Earlier this month, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) confirmed that it had suspended football as well as other fall sports seasons.  Because of that, South Carolina State’s Roderick Perry entered the NCAA transfer database.  A few days later, the defensive tackle announced on Twitter that he will be transferring to Illinois football.

“Giving special thanks to my parents, Rod & Maria and my Uncle Tim for being instrumental in my dedication to a life of football,” Perry wrote. “I would also like to thank the coaches at SC State for taking a chance on an unranked kid from Raleigh, NC. Finally, I’d like to thank my teammates and everyone supporting me with my decision.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances and after discussing it with Coaches and family, we collectively decided that the best decision for me at this time is to enter the transfer portal on June 24, 2020. It was never my intention to leave my bulldog family at South Carolina State University. In the fall of 2020 I will be joining the fight with the University of Illinois.”

Perry will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.

At South Carolina State this past season, the North Carolina native accounted for 14½ tackles for loss and 4½ sacks.  In a loss to USF, Perry was credited with three tackles, one of which went for a loss.

With Perry and Imatorbhebhe commitments, Illinois has now added at least 10 transfers since March.  seven of which are Power Five transfers.  And two of which were FCS All-Americans.

In mid-March, ex-Alabama linebacker Christian Bell tweeted that he was moving on to the Illini. Shortly thereafter, we noted that an FCS All-American offensive lineman had opted to transfer into the Illinois football program. New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond Dan did the same.  As did Miami wide receiver Brian Hightower.  And Mississippi State offensive lineman Brevyn Jones as well in early May  And Louisville defensive back TreSean Smith in mid-May.  And Cal defensive tackle Chinedu Udeogu that same month.  And Missouri wide receiver Khmari Thompson earlier this month.

Report: 2020 Michigan-Ohio State game will ‘probably’ be moved to Sept. or Oct.

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If the Big Ten plays football this fall — whispers suggest the conference is bracing members for no season — the annual Michigan-Ohio State could very well have a decidedly different feel to it.  Temperature-wise in particular.

Every year for nearly eight decades, you could set your watch to the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry grudge match. When The Game was on, you knew it was November and the last game of the regular season.  However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Bill Rabinowitz of Columbus Dispatch is reporting that this year’s matchup will probably be played earlier in the season “as a hedge against the COVID-19 pandemic causing a cancellation in late November.”

From the Dispatch:

If the game is scheduled in September or October and the coronavirus situation forces a postponement, it could then played at a later date.

The source stressed that no final decisions about scheduling have been made, and that the situation is fluid, but that moving the game is the most likely scenario at this point.

If that happens, it is unlikely that Ohio State would play Michigan in the season opener.

The last time Michigan and Ohio State didn’t end the regular season against one another?  Way back in 1942.

July 9, the Big Ten announced that it will be going to a conference-only schedule for the 2020 college football season.  It’s expected that the conference will announce its schedule at some point in early August.

In a letter sent to membership Thursday, elevenwarriors.com reported, the conference stressed that, if it feels fall sports, including football, can’t be safely contested, they could still be canceled.

“If we determine as a Conference that it is not prudent to compete in the fall of 2020, we will not do so, much like our decision in March 2020 to cancel the Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis,” the letter states. “Our final decision will be rooted in guidance from medical experts and in consultation with institutional leadership, student-athletes, coaches and appropriate federal, state, and local authorities.”

College Football amidst Coronavirus Pandemic: On this day in CFT history, including a reputed gambler (Tay Bang!) reportedly giving Florida Gator football players discounts on rental cars

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The sports world, including college football, had essentially screeched to a halt in the spring as countries around the world battled the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there was a dearth of college football news as the sport went into a COVID-induced hibernation.  Slowly, though, the game is coming back to life.  Hopefully.

That being said, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 31, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football down-time, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2018

THE HEADLINE: Reputed gambler reportedly gave Florida Gator football players discounts on rental cars
THE SYNOPSIS: This bizarre situation involved the gambler, nicknamed “Tay Bang,” who was also an employee at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  No NCAA issues arose from the allegations.

2017

THE HEADLINE: UCF K Donald De La Haye leaves team after refusing to demonetize YouTube channel
THE SYNOPSIS: Kudos, NCAA!  You continue to rock!!! In the coming months, what De La Haye should’ve been allowed to then will be permissible.

2016

THE HEADLINE: BAC for arrested Alabama OL Alphonse Taylor was a Blutarsky
THE SYNOPSIS: The reason this headline is included? It allows me to post this classic scene, of course.

Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” “Mr. Blutarsky.  Zero.  Point.  Zero.

2015

THE HEADLINE: New Big Ten scheduling mandates Power 5 opponents, no FCS foes
THE SYNOPSIS: The move was made to strengthen the conference’s strength of schedule when it came to the College Football Playoff.  The Power Five requirement brought the B1G in-line with the ACC and SEC.

2015

THE HEADLINE: No name games for Jim Harbaugh. Ohio State is “Ohio State” for Michigan coach
THE SYNOPSIS: This came on the heels of Brady Hoke annoyingly referring to its rival as “Ohio.” He is, though, the last Wolverines head coach to beat the Buckeyes. So he’s got that going for him.  Which is nice.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Kirk Ferentz says 10-game conference schedules are coming
THE SYNOPSIS: Nine games?  Yep.  10 games? Nope.  Not yet.  And likely never.

2012

THE HEADLINE: As expected, Silas Redd transferring to USC
THE SYNOPSIS: The running back was the first big-name player to flee the Nittany Lions in the wake of historic NCAA sanctions.

2009

THE HEADLINE: 30-day suspension for slurring Hawaii coach
THE SYNOPSIS: Greg McMackin drew a suspension for directing a homosexual slur at a Notre Dame bowl dance.  Yes, you read that correctly.

USC TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe to join brother at Illinois, becomes seventh Power Five transfer Lovie Smith has landed since March

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Illinois has added a very familiar — and unique — surname to its football roster.  Unofficially, of course.

In March of this year, Daniel Imatorbhebhe was granted a sixth season of eligibility.  Four months later, it was reported that the tight end would use that extra, extra year at somewhere other than USC as he entered the NCAA transfer database.

On Twitter Wednesday night, Imatorbhebhe announced that he has committed to the Illinois football program.

Thus far, the program has not confirmed Imatorbhebhe’s addition to the roster.

Obviously, as a sixth-year senior, Imatorbhebhe has already graduated.  And, as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately for the Fighting Illini in 2020.

Imatorbhebhe is the brother of Josh Imatorbhebhe, who was the Illini’s leading receiver a year ago (33-634-9).  Like his brother, Josh Imatorbhebhe played a portion of his collegiate career at USC.  In June of last year, that Imatorbhebhe transferred from USC into the Illinois football program as well.

The decision to give Daniel Imatorbhebhe a sixth season was a relatively easy one.  Imatorbhebhe was held out of spring practice two years ago for what was described as a nagging hip injury, then missed the entire 2018 season for what was called an upper leg muscle injury. The year before, a hip flexor injury caused him to miss five games.

After beginning his collegiate playing career at Florida, Imatorbhebhe, a three-star 2015 signee, decided to transfer in May of that year and ultimately landed at USC a month later. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

During his time with the Trojans, the 6-3, 240-pound tight end started nine of the 22 games in which he played, catching 25 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns.

With Imatorbhebhe’s commitment, Illinois has now added seven Power Five transfers since March.  All told, the Fighting Illini have added at least nine transfers overall.

In mid-March, ex-Alabama linebacker Christian Bell tweeted that he was moving on to the Illini. Shortly thereafter, we noted that an FCS All-American offensive lineman had opted to transfer into the Illinois football program. New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond Dan did the same.  As did Miami wide receiver Brian Hightower.  And Mississippi State offensive lineman Brevyn Jones as well in early May  And Louisville defensive back TreSean Smith in mid-May.  And Cal defensive tackle Chinedu Udeogu that same month.  And Missouri wide receiver Khmari Thompson earlier this month.

Illinois RB Ra’Von Bonner opts out of 2020 season over COVID-19 concerns

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Now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story when it comes to one member of the Illinois football team.

Monday, we noted that a pair of Illinois football players, running back Ra’Von Bonner and offensive lineman Jake Cerny, will not play for the Fighting Illini this season because of what was described as personal reasons.  According to Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, Bonner’s personal reason involves the coronavirus on a pair of fronts.  One, Bonner is an asthmatic.  And, two, the fourth-year senior doesn’t want to end his collegiate career with a truncated season, which will be the case as the Big Ten has gone to a conference-only schedule.

From Ryan’s report:

Seeing teammates test positive for the coronavirus during team workouts this summer made Bonner, who has asthma, reassess playing. The idea of a shortened season — and the threat of an even shorter one should the season be canceled midway through — also didn’t appeal to Bonner.

“That was already on my mind prior to returning to campus,” he said. “Playing football, I feel we’re more at risk with the amount of guys we have. In football you have to touch someone else. You can spread that to family members. That’s not what I want. I don’t want to not see my family, my sister, my girlfriend.”

“I’ve seen some people get sick from it,” Bonner said. “I don’t want that to happen to me. It’s the confirmation that people our age can get sick. (Some) try to make it seem like we’re immune.

“It was more so that than the number (of cases at Illinois) itself. We’re doing a lot better than other schools in terms of numbers. But the fact that someone can get really sick — I don’t want that.

As far as we know, Bonner is the first FBS player to opt out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19.  At this time, it’s unclear if Cerny’s personal reasons are similar to Bonner’s.

Bonner still has his redshirt season to use for the 2020 campaign.  That would allow him to return to the Illinois football team as a fifth-year senior in 2021.  Provided the Illini renews his scholarship, of course.  According to Ryan, though, “[a]thletic director Josh Whitman, coach Lovie Smith… supported his decision,” so that would appear to be the case.

Bonner has rushed for 822 yards and 10 touchdowns during his three seasons with the Big Ten school.  He would’ve been the team’s leading returning rusher.  Added to the graduations of Reggie Corbin (team-leading 675 yards a season ago) and Dre Bown (584), Bonner’s departure means Jakari Norwood (94) will carry that moniker.