Counting down the 50 most important Illini
No. 21: Spencer Harris, wide receiver
Why he’s important: A possession receiver for most of his college career so far, this is the senior’s last chance to excel at Illinois. So far, Harris’ numbers have been pedestrian. He caught 21 passes for 252 yards last season. The receiving yards are the highest he has had during his time at Illinois and his receptions were five fewer passes than what he caught his sophomore season. Has never topped the 100-yard receiving mark in the 33 games he’s played at Illinois. With new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit relying on a pass-happy offensive philosophy, Harris — who came to Illinois from Greenwood, Ark., based on his ties to former Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino — could hit that barrier this season. Harris has the size and experience to become a difference-maker inside the red zone. But his four career touchdown catches haven’t exactly followed up that notion. If Harris wants to prove something, this is his final shot.
Fast fact: Harris is No. 1 in an obscure category regarding Illinois pass catchers. He is the all-time leading receiver at Illinois who hails from Arkansas. Granted, the list isn’t long. But his 51 catches for 526 yards easily outpaces the rest of the group, which includes DeJustice Coleman (12 catches for 202 yards from 1957-59), NFL Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell (nine catches for 107 yards from 1956-57) and Conrad Adams (three catches for 27 yards in 1996).
Tomorrow: No. 20