Johnny Newton and Keith Randolph Jr. have been a dynamic duo for the defensive line of Illinois. Both players have eligibility beyond 2023 with the Illini, but the two confirmed their future plans on Tuesday.

According to Joey Wagner with the Illini Inquirer, both players confirmed that they will declare for the 2024 NFL Draft at the end of the season. With a 5-6 record, a bowl game is still a possibility for the Illini, and Newton has confirmed he will bypass the bowl if Illinois qualifies. Randolph is undecided.

Isaiah Williams — the team’s leading receiver — said he is undecided at this point about his next step.


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This season, Newton is tied for second on the Illini defense with 6.5 TFL and is second with 5.5 sacks. Randolph has 4 TFL and 1.5 sacks.

Last season, Newton had a breakout performance with 14 TFL and 5.5 sacks and is widely regarded as one of the best interior defenders available for the 2024 Draft. Randolph had 13 TFL and 4.5 sacks a season ago.

Along with Newton’s work as a defender, he has been credited with 4 blocked kicks on special teams. Per an Illini graphic, he also leads the Power 5 in total snaps played by a defensive tackle this season.