Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon’s hit-stick tackle was based on his football smarts

When you watch enough football, you start to realize that there are players who are simply faster and better on the field because they can diagnose things in ways other players can’t. On Friday night, the Illinois Fighting Illini took on the Indiana Hoosiers, and Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon, a fourth-year junior, had just such a play.

With 11:57 left in the first quarter, Indiana quarterback Connor Bazelak tried to throw a simple screen pass to running back Shaun Shivers. Witherspoon (No. 31) was up top to the defensive right side, playing the overhang STAR position, but when Shivers motioned from the offensive right to left side in the backfield pre-snap, Witherspoon read it all the way, and broke for Shivers, ready to unleash all the hell he possibly could.

The Illini were all set up to run that screen, and then, BOOM. This happened.

Witherspoon also had an interception in Week 0 against Wyoming with a 40-yard return, but as he goes through the 2022 season, that hit is the play people are going to remember. And Witherspoon did it all by diagnosing the offense, and being in the right place at the right time.

On the football field, being smart makes you faster.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire