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Offensive lineman Richie Petitbon at Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

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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:

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No. 24: Richie Petitbon

Vitals: 6-4, 310, Gr., OL

Hometown: Annapolis, Md.

High school: Gonzaga College

Looking back at 2018: Petitbon got the most playing time of his Alabama career last fall, playing in six games as a backup offensive tackle behind sophomore Jedrick Wills. Those six games were more appearances than Petitbon had in his first two seasons on the field with the Crimson Tide combined. After redshirting in 2015, he played in one game in 2016 and then three in 2017 as a reserve guard.

Looking ahead to 2019: What Petitbon will do given the opportunity to start is the question given he was a four-star recruit out of high school and ranked as high as No. 51 overall in the 2015 class. Because he will be given an opportunity to start for the Illini — with significantly large shoes to fill. Petitbon slotted in immediately at guard this spring, replacing seventh round NFL draft pick Nick Allegretti.

Last year’s ranking: NR

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).