Juco receiver Barr catches on late
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois had the typical pomp and circumstance reserved for National Signing Day the first Wednesday in February.
Raphael Barr missed all of the extravagance. But the junior college transfer could still factor into the upcoming season for Tim Beckman’s program.
The wide receiver from Citrus College in Glendora, Calif., became a late addition to the Class of 2014 on Tuesday when he orally committed to the Illini.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Barr is expected to arrive in Champaign-Urbana either about the Fourth of July or the first week in August when fall practices start, he said Tuesday.
“My strengths are that I have big-play moments and can stretch the field,” Barr said. “I’m very excited and hope to see the field in 2014.”
Illinois will have to replace its top four wideouts from a year ago in Steve Hull, Spencer Harris, Miles Osei and Ryan Lankford. The quartet combined for 148 receptions, 1,978 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Barr could find himself in the mix after he hauled in 27 receptions for 408 yards and six touchdowns last season with the Owls, who went 8-3.
He attended Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and initially enrolled at Riverside City College in Riverside, Calif., where he didn’t play during the 2012 season, before transferring to Citrus. Barr will have four seasons of eligibility to play three seasons at Illinois, the same scenario for Tyrin Stone-Davis, another wideout Illinois landed from a California junior college with the Class of 2014. Stone-Davis arrived on the UI campus last week and is going through summer workouts with the Illini.
Illinois wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy was the lead recruiter on Barr, who also held offers from Alabama-Birmingham, New Mexico and South Alabama.
“We built a great relationship and had good camaraderie on the phone and in person,” Barr said. “They actually showed interest in me, and when I got there, I was impressed with the culture and how the coaches treated the players as sons rather than like employees.”
The juco route
Tim Beckman and his assistants have hit the junior college ranks hard during their time in Champaign. They did so again Tuesday by getting a commitment from wide receiver Raphael Barr. Here’s the full list:
PLAYER, POS. CLASS JUNIOR COLLEGE
Andrew Davis, TE 2015 Iowa Western CC Comment: First juco commit in upcoming class had offer from Texas
Geronimo Allison, WR 2014 Iowa Western CC
Comment: Big upside and is likely starter in 2014
Raphael Barr, WR 2014 Citrus (Calif.) College Comment: California native eligible immediately
Joe Fotu, DL 2014 Laney (Calif.) CC Comment: American-Samoan brings nastiness to C-U
Carroll Phillips, DE 2014 Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) CC Comment: Possible edge rusher Illini need
Tyrin Stone-Davis, WR 2014 Pierce (Calif.) College Comment: Highly touted target has three seasons as an Illini
Jihad Ward, DL 2014 Globe Inst. of Tech (N.Y.)
Comment: Big expectations for big prospect (6-6, 280)
Martize Barr, WR 2013 Iowa Western CC Comment: Caught 26 passes for 246 yards, one TD last season
Abe Cajuste, DL 2013 Victor Valley (Calif.) Comment: Reserve played in five games with one tackle in ‘13
Eric Finney, LB 2013 College of Canyons (Calif.)
Comment: Knee injury cost him playing time last year
Dallas Hinkhouse, OL 2013 Iowa Western CC Comment: Made move to tight end this offseason
Zane Petty, DB 2013 American River (Calif.) Comment: Starting free safety after making 75 tackles last year