Counting down the 50 most important Illini
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No. 8: Donovonn Young, running back.
Why he's important: First, he is one of just two tailbacks on the team with any experience. He is the leading returning running back after gaining 451 yards and scoring six touchdowns as a rookie in 2011. The old coaching staff was making a point when it gave him No. 5, the same number worn by recent stars Mikel Leshoure and Rashard Mendenhall. After struggling with injuries in the spring, he had a good summer and was ready to go for Camp Rantoul. Because of his combination of size, power and speed, he fits well with the other experienced returnee, Josh Ferguson. They ran well together in training camp and appear to be willing to help each other throughout the 2012 season. While it won't be a back-by-committee situation, you could see Young sharing time with Ferguson. In a perfect world for Illinois, they would combine for about 1,400 yards and double-digit touchdowns. At least. Young continues to work on his hands, which will be important in the pass happy offense.
Fast fact: One of the top players in Texas as a senior, he was overlooked by most big-time schools. picking Illinois over North Texas. A change of high schools during his career might have had something to do with it..
Tomorrow: No. 7