CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Saboor Karriem made his presence known in his collegiate debut. The four-star recruit out of New Jersey had one tackle and tied for a team high with three pass break-ups in Illinois’ win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday. Called upon after several injuries in the secondary, Karriem jumped a route in the second half and had his hands on a ball on a pass headed towards the sideline. It was one of several moments that stood out in his first time seeing the field.
“Felt good,” Karriem said about his performance. “I put in the work over fall camp and stuff. It kind of paid off. I can still get better, it was just the first time, get my feet wet, but going forward, just continue to get better every day and be the best me.”
“He had some things he did really well, he had some things he got to work on,” Illinois defensive coordinator Aaron Henry said about Karriem. “He’s still a work in progress just like all those young guys are so I was really, really excited to get him in those environments this past Saturday and we were able to win.”
Karriem was one of several true freshmen or newcomers who made an impact defensively. Zachary Tobe also shined in the secondary, registering three tackles and three pass break-ups against the Owls. The Florida native was the highest-graded true freshman defender in the nation for Week 4 (87.0), according to PFF.
Nicario Harper also had his best game yet as an Illini, with an interception, three tackles and a PBU. The Southern Miss, Jacksonville State and Louisville transfer has just one year at Illinois and has fought to work his way into the line-up, making his first start in Orange and Blue against FAU.