Illinois linebacker Dele Harding made an impact prior to his senior season. As a junior, he tallied 37 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss.
But, 2019 was different. It was an absolute coming out party. This past season, the senior racked up 153 tackles, 14 for loss, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and scored two defensive touchdowns.
Again, ridiculous. This graphic sums it all up:
𝗕𝗜𝗚 𝗧𝗜𝗠𝗘 𝗦𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗢𝗡
1️⃣5️⃣3️⃣ tackles by @dele_harding were…
🔶 6th-most in Illini history
🔶 most for an Illini since 1990 (161, Darrick Brownlow)
🔶 2nd-most in FBS this season
🔶 39 more than any other B1G player this season pic.twitter.com/xFW3Pbbf7K
— Illinois Football (@IlliniFootball) January 7, 2020
Not only did Harding lead the B1G in tackles with 153, but he also had 39 more tackles than any other player in the conference. That’s just absurd.
Harding also had the most tackles in a season by any Fighting Illini player since 1960. That was 60 years ago.
Who had a productive 2019 season in the Big Ten? Guys like Chase Young, Jonathan Taylor, Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins get all the love.
But Harding should, too.