Before the start of Illinois football's training camp on Aug. 2 in Champaign, beat writer Scott Richey is counting down the Top 50 most important Illini heading into the 2019 season:
No. 44: Khalan Tolson
Vitals: 6-0, 220, So., LB
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Fla.
High School: Admiral Farragut Academy
Looking back at 2018: Arriving at Illinois as a consensus three-star recruit — and at a position in serious need of depth — Tolson played right away as a true freshman last fall. The Illini outside linebacker played primarily on special teams while appearing in all 12 games and finished his debut season with five tackles.
Looking ahead to 2019: Linebacker depth was only partly addressed in the offseason, meaning Tolson should be in line for more playing time both at his natural position and again on special teams this coming season. Look for him to slot in as a potential backup at one of the outside linebacker spots behind now eligible transfer Milo Eifler after Eifler sat out last season after arriving from Washington.
Last year's ranking: 49