USC TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe to join brother at Illinois, becomes seventh Power Five transfer Lovie Smith has landed since March


Illinois has added a very familiar — and unique — surname to its football roster.  Unofficially, of course.

In March of this year, Daniel Imatorbhebhe was granted a sixth season of eligibility.  Four months later, it was reported that the tight end would use that extra, extra year at somewhere other than USC as he entered the NCAA transfer database.

On Twitter Wednesday night, Imatorbhebhe announced that he has committed to the Illinois football program.

Thus far, the program has not confirmed Imatorbhebhe’s addition to the roster.

Obviously, as a sixth-year senior, Imatorbhebhe has already graduated.  And, as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately for the Fighting Illini in 2020.

Imatorbhebhe is the brother of Josh Imatorbhebhe, who was the Illini’s leading receiver a year ago (33-634-9).  Like his brother, Josh Imatorbhebhe played a portion of his collegiate career at USC.  In June of last year, that Imatorbhebhe transferred from USC into the Illinois football program as well.

The decision to give Daniel Imatorbhebhe a sixth season was a relatively easy one.  Imatorbhebhe was held out of spring practice two years ago for what was described as a nagging hip injury, then missed the entire 2018 season for what was called an upper leg muscle injury. The year before, a hip flexor injury caused him to miss five games.

After beginning his collegiate playing career at Florida, Imatorbhebhe, a three-star 2015 signee, decided to transfer in May of that year and ultimately landed at USC a month later. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

During his time with the Trojans, the 6-3, 240-pound tight end started nine of the 22 games in which he played, catching 25 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns.

With Imatorbhebhe’s commitment, Illinois has now added seven Power Five transfers since March.  All told, the Fighting Illini have added at least nine transfers overall.

In mid-March, ex-Alabama linebacker Christian Bell tweeted that he was moving on to the Illini. Shortly thereafter, we noted that an FCS All-American offensive lineman had opted to transfer into the Illinois football program. New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond Dan did the same.  As did Miami wide receiver Brian Hightower.  And Mississippi State offensive lineman Brevyn Jones as well in early May  And Louisville defensive back TreSean Smith in mid-May.  And Cal defensive tackle Chinedu Udeogu that same month.  And Missouri wide receiver Khmari Thompson earlier this month.