Top 50 most important Illini: No. 42, Griffin Palmer, TE

Top 50 most important Illini: No. 42, Griffin Palmer, TE

No. 42: Griffin Palmer, TE

Why he's important: Targeting tight ends is always a point of emphasis, at least it seems, once training camp arrives each summer for the Illini. But as the season progresses, the tight ends seem less and less a part of the passing game. That's how it's gone in recent seasons. Palmer is one of five tight ends on the Illini roster, a group that lacks experience and a proven playmaker entering the 2017 season. Two of his fellow tight ends, Brandon Jones and Brandon Roberts, played on the defensive line last season at Illinois. Palmer didn't play in any games last season, with the Class of 2016 recruit redshirting his first season in Champaign. The native of St. Charles, Mo., has good size at 6 feet, 5 inches and 220 pounds, but until he actually catches a pass — or two — in a game, it's a question about how he'll respond against opposing defenses. The DeSmet graduate, who hauled in 31 receptions for 429 yards and six touchdowns as a high school senior in 2015, will likely get a shot to crack the tight end rotation once training camp opens. How long he sticks there, however, is entirely based on his performance.

Fast fact: The former high school basketball player, who counts Tim Tebow as his favorite athlete, is a business major and has Big Ten bloodlines. His father, John Palmer, played tight end at Iowa from 1985 to 1989.

Last year's ranking: N/A

Previous rankings: No. 50, DL Kendrick Green; No. 49, QB Cam Miller; No. 48, DB James Knight; No. 47, DL Lere Oladipo; No. 46, LB Jake Hansen; No. 45, RB Austin Roberts; No. 44, QB Trenard Davis; No. 43, RB Mike Epstein

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