Long time readers of Off Tackle Empire, formerly known as The Rivalry, Esq., will no doubt be delighted to learn that The Law Firm is being retained by the Illinois Fighting Illini for one more season.
The Law Offices of Newton & Randolph, known to more casual fans as defensive line duo Jer’Zhan Newton and Keith Randolph, weighed their options until the last possible day to declare for the NFL Draft and on Monday they both announced their return to Illinois. Randolph led off with a 53 second video in which he thanked Illini nation, the coaches and teammates, God, his family and everyone under the sun for all the memories over the last several years before declaring “job’s not done, I’m back.”
Had me in the first half. Not gonna lie.
While Randolph was a fringe prospect for the 2023 NFL draft based on his physical attributes, Newton was consistently mocked in the third round. Astute Twitter observers may have seen an exchange between Newton and Illini fans in which Newton plainly stated that he knows exactly what a third round pick would be paid, so this is a good sign for the state of the Illini NIL game.
The duo combined for 600 pounds of playing weight, 112 total tackles (52 solo), 10 sacks, 4 pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
The return of the Law Firm will bolster an Illini defense that loses most of the snaps from the defensive secondary. With Calvin Avery graduating on the defensive line, Newton and Randolph will be the only experienced interior defensive linemen on the roster barring some transfer news. It’s hard to overstate the importance of The Law Firm to Illinois’ fortunes in 2023.
There’s a lot of exciting news around offenses in the Big Ten West these days, and also Iowa added some people. Nevertheless, those teams will have to contend with a defensive line featuring freshman All-American Gabe Jacas, rising edge rusher Seth Coleman, and of course The Law Firm.
The defense rests...for now.