Illinois DL Johnny Newton earns high marks for performance against Purdue
Through two weeks, there hasn’t been a lot to write home about when talking about Illinois football.
But there appears to be one bright spot: defensive lineman Johnny Newton. The true freshman is off to a strong start as part of the Illini front four. People have noticed, including Pro Football Focus.
The site released its grades and when it comes to highly-graded Big Ten defenders, it’s hard to find one doing better than Newton.
🔹 @Johnny5Newton with some HIGH grades vs. Purdue according to @PFF_College
🔸 No. 1 true freshman defender in the nation
🔸 No. 2 defender in the Big Ten
🔸 No. 15 defender in the nation
🔸 No. 1 defensive tackle in the Big Ten
🔸 No. 3 defensive tackle in the nation pic.twitter.com/SKmjXcA2hg
— Illinois Football (@IlliniFootball) November 1, 2020
Newton was a three-star recruit coming out of Clearwater, Florida. Originally committing to Maryland in August 2019, Lovie Smith and the Illini coaching staff flipped Newton back in December.
So far, the young defensive lineman has had success, including on Saturday against Purdue. He forced a fumble in just his second college football game. He looks to be a key cog in a possible Illinois turnaround under Smith.