Daniels: A look at the WRs
Illinois football beat writer Matt Daniels gives the inside scoop on how position battles are faring for the Illini during preseason camp. Today’s glance hones in on the wide receivers:
Who has left?
Peter Bonahoom, Kevin Carroll, Spencer Harris, Steve Hull, Ryan Lankford and Miles Osei. Essentially the top four pass catchers from the wide receivers corps are gone in Hull, Harris, Lankford and Osei. Bonahoom and Carroll took part in spring ball before leaving the team this summer. All told, the quartet of Hull, Harris, Lankford and Osei caught 153 passes for 1,978 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Who has returned?
Martize Barr, Devin Church, Kameron Fry, Justin Hardee, Kenny Knight, Marchie Murdock, Leslie Poole and Dionte Taylor. Barr is the most experienced one with 26 catches for 246 yards and one TD in his debut season with Illinois in 2013. Hardee brings with him 28 catches for 287 yards in his first two seasons. Church, who also could see time at running back, Knight and Taylor have minuscule numbers thus far. Fry, Murdock and Poole have yet to catch a pass with the Illini.
Geronimo Allison, Raphael Barr, Mike Dudek, Zach Grant, Tyrin Stone-Davis, Malik Turner and Jeremy Whitlow. Allison, Barr and Stone-Davis are all junior college transfers with either two or three seasons of eligibility. Dudek and Turner are true freshmen, with Dudek making an impression in spring practice, while Grant sat out last season after transferring from Northern Illinois, and Whitlow is back at wide receiver after experimenting with linebacker last season.
Who will start against Youngstown State?
Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will line the Illinois offense in a variety of formations. Let’s say Illinois comes out with four wideouts on the opening snap against the Penguins. If so, the early consensus is Allison, Martize Barr, Dudek and Hardee will find themselves as the starters.
What they’re saying
“We definitely feel like we’re underdogs because nobody believes in us. We believe in us, and, honestly, that’s all that matters because if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.” — Hardee