44 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini
No. 44: Joe Fotu, DL
Why he’s important: His energy and tenacity are two items that stood out during spring practice. Fotu benefitted from enrolling early, allowing Illinois to work him out at both defensive end and defensive tackle. Where he winds up likely won’t be settled until fall camp ends. The California native — who was born in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific — transferred in from Laney Community College in Oakland, where in two years he recorded some modest numbers (54 tackles, 10 1/2 tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks). Getting after the quarterback is a main priority for Illinois to improve upon this fall after paltry sack totals last season (15) that tied for 112th in the country. Fotu picked up a sack in the spring game, one of his four tackles, and could work his way into the defensive line rotation this fall.
Fast fact: One of five junior college players Illinois signed in the latest recruiting class, Fotu chose the Illini ahead of an offer from New Mexico and interest from California and Arizona. It was a fast recruitment, too. Fotu committed to Illinois in mid-December, less than a month after the Illini started recruiting him.
Last year’s ranking: NA
Tomorrow: No. 43
No. 45: Tyler White