35 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini.
No. 35: Jaylen Dunlap, CB
Why he’s important: He’s the Richard Sherman of the Illinois secondary. Mainly with his swagger. Dunlap went up against Laquon Treadwell each day during practice when the two were at Crete-Monee High School. All Treadwell did in his first year at Mississippi was catch 72 passes for 608 yards and five touchdowns. Going up against the state’s top prospect in the Class of 2013 gave Dunlap much-needed boost. So did having multiple schools take a pass on him before Illinois offered him late in the process. He emerged during preseason practices as a player Tim Beckman kept bringing up. With good reason. Dunlap earned his way into the rotation at cornerback, playing in all 12 games and recording 26 tackles along with two pass deflections. He’s probably still kicking himself for a dropped interception against Miami (Ohio), but he has belief in his ability unbecommon for a cornerback only a year removed from high school.
Fast fact: Even though Illinois had a 3-4 home record last fall, Dunlap is 4-4 in his career at Memorial Stadium. The big Juice Williams fan Crete-Monee win a Class 6A state title two days after Thanksgiving in 2012 when he had four tackles during a 33-26 win against Cary-Grove.
Last year’s ranking: N/A
Tomorrow: No. 34
No. 36: Devin Church