Illinois reportedly loses a defensive back to the transfer portal
Illinois defensive back Derrick Smith is entering the transfer portal, according to a report from 247Sports’ Joey Wagner. Smith has already been removed from the Illini’s online roster.
Once a member of the Miami Hurricanes, Smith transferred to Illinois in 2019 to play for former head coach Lovie Smith as a hybrid linebacker/safety. He sat out that season per NCAA restrictions at the time. In 2020, Smith played in all eight games as a defensive back with 22 tackles and 1 tackle for a loss.
Primarily a special teams player this season, Smith has played in 7 of Illinois’ 9 games and recorded 17 tackles.
Prior to coming to Champaign, he had 24 tackles in two seasons for the Hurricanes.
The Illini are 3-6 on their season, with a 2-4 record against Big Ten squads. In speaking with media on Monday, head coach Bret Bielema seemed to suggest there was attrition coming.
“Our November isn’t where I want it to be but it’s very significant,” the first-year head coach said. “I know that transfer portal things are going to start coming up in our program just because they’re happening in other programs. We’re not oblivious to that. I understand during our bye week with two remaining games left, there are going to be conversations with guys who are moving on with our program because they’re sixth-year seniors, but then because of the COVID world, it’s a whole different world out there right now with players and eligibility and if they want to play football and how they want to go about it.”
Having already transferred, Smith would not be eligible for the recently-passed one-time transfer exception allowing student-athletes to play immediately after changing teams.