Last season, the Illinois Fighting Illini passing game was reborn under the new offensive system of Bill Cubit. The team had seven receivers with 15+ receptions and 200+ receiving yards. Former Illini wide receiver Steve Hull ended up leading the team in receiving with 993 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns on 59 receptions.
At the end of Cubit’s first season in Champaign, the Illini jumped in the Big Ten rankings from 12th to 2nd in receiving yards, 11th to 2nd in receiving yards per game, and 7th to 1st in receptions.
Here is the Writing Illini projected depth chart for the Illinois receivers:
|Geronimo Allison||Raphael Barr||Jon Davis||Martize Barr|
|Tyrin Stone-Davis||Justin Hardee||Matt LaCosse||Mike Dudek|
|Dionte Taylor||Marchie Murdock||Dallas Hinkhouse||Zach Grant|
The Big Guns
The only wide receiver with 200+ yards returning for the 2014 season is senior Martize Barr. He was sixth on the team in receiving yards (246) and averaged 9.5 yards per catch. The other big guns for the Illini this season will all be “newcomers.” Geronimo Allison came to Illinois from Iowa Western Community College. Allison caught 69 passes for 872 yards and eight touchdowns during his sophomore season. Raphael Barr came to the Illini from Citrus College. As a freshman in 2013, he racked up 408 receiving yards, 15.1 yards per catch, and six touchdowns. The final big gun might be Pierce College’s Tyrin Stone-Davis. He redshirted in 2013, but had 437 receiving yards on 20 receptions in 2012.
Following a strong spring game, Justin Hardee could be the biggest up-and-comer for the Illinois this season. Hardee is the wide receiver with the most yards from a returning player behind Martize Barr. The Illini also return two tight ends in Jon Davis and Matt LaCosse who each totaled 15+ receptions and 200+ yards last season. Every team needs a deep receiving corp to be good. Illini fans should expect Cubit to use as many players as it takes to have offensive success in 2014.
The only freshmen on the Illini receiving corp this season are Mike Dudek and Malik Turner. Dudek was the 31st best recruit from the state of Illinois while Turner was the 55th. Out of the two, there is some hype surrounding Dudek entering the 2014 season. Due to the amount of talent loss over the offseason, there’s a good chance that both Dudek and Turner help the team during their freshman season. However, there’s a good chance Dudek could be backing up one of the big guns in 2014.
The Back-Up Corps
The motto for the Illinois back-ups this season might be “next man up.” That’s because Illinois really did lose a lot of receivers during the offseason, and now it’s time for the next set up guys to set up into the spotlight. The Illini will see a lot of new faces this season and will have a lot of back-ups recording their first receptions for the Orange & Blue.
Despite the loss of talent from last season to this season, Illini fans can expect Bill Cubit to run his system the same exact way. By adding Allison, R. Barr, and Stone-Davis, the Illini have quality receivers to achieve similar results to last season. Illinois also returns Josh Ferguson would helps out as a receiver from the back-up. They also only lost one player at the tight end position. Illini Nation knows who will be suiting up for them in the receiving corp. The question is: who will be throwing them the ball as the starting quarterback of the Fighting Illini?
Before we end, let us take a quick look at the receiver roster.
|Geronimo Allison||WR||8||6'3"||185 lbs.||Jr.|
|Martize Barr||WR||9||6'0"||195 lbs.||Sr.|
|Raphael Barr||WR||81||6'2"||190 lbs.||So.|
|Devin Church||RB/WR||23||5'8"||185 lbs.||So.|
|Tim Clary||TE||47||6'1"||245 lbs.||Jr.|
|Jon Davis||TE||3||6'3"||240 lbs.||Sr.|
|Mike Dudek||WR||18||5'11"||180 lbs.||Fr.|
|Kameron Fry||WR||82||6'1"||200 lbs.||So.|
|Zach Grant||WR||88||5'11"||190 lbs.||Jr.|
|Justin Hardee||WR||19||6'1"||195 lbs.||Jr.|
|Dallas Hinkhouse||TE||89||6'5"||275 lbs.||Jr.|
|Trevor Kanteman||TE||83||6'4"||240 lbs.||RS Fr.|
|Kenny Knight||WR||84||6'4"||225 lbs.||Jr.|
|Matt LaCosse||TE||11||6'6"||245 lbs.||Sr.|
|Marchie Murdock||WR||16||6'1"||190 lbs.||RS Fr.|
|Jim Nudera||TE||30||6'1"||230 lbs.||Jr.|
|Leslie Poole||WR||31||5'11"||185 lbs.||Jr.|
|Tyrin Stone-Davis||WR||2||6'3"||195 lbs.||So.|
|Dionte Taylor||WR||13||6'0"||180 lbs.||So.|
|Malik Turner||WR||86||6'3"||205 lbs.||Fr.|
|Tyler White||TE||87||6'5"||245 lbs.||So.|
|Jeremy Whitlow||WR||80||6'2"||215 lbs.||Jr.|