Counting down the 50 most important Illini
No. 26: Dami Ayoola, running back
Why he’s important: Like most Illinois offensive players, the Florida native had his most successful game of the season against Charleston Southern. Ayoola led the Illini that day with 55 rushing yards, nearly half of which came on a 28-yard touchdown run. Ayoola finished the season with 117 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. Given the grim nature of Illinois’ offense last year, Ayoola showed flashes, at times, of his potential. He’ll enter the fall behind Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young on the depth chart, but could see playing time. Ferguson hasn’t exactly stayed healthy during his career at Illinois while Young has struggled with consistent production. Ayoola won’t beat teams running in between the guards, but can utilize his speed and elusiveness in the open field to his advantage.
Fast fact: Ayoola is one of three former St. Thomas Aquinas players on the roster, joining punter Justin DuVernois and freshman linebacker James Crawford. It’s the most players from one high school on the Illinois roster. Ayoola, DuVernois and Crawford each were a part of state championship teams during their prep career.
Tomorrow: No. 25