Illinois Football: Reggie Corbin has exceeded all expectations

You can make an argument Reggie Corbin is one of the best running backs we have ever seen suit up for the Illinois football team.

Some people would have laughed at that statement just a couple of years ago. Honestly, there was no reason to think this kid was going to be on a different level coming out of high school. He was only a three-star recruit who was the No. 1534 player in the class of 2015 and the No. 128 running back in the nation. Why would anyone think he was going to do anything special for this program?

Corbin’s first year with the program didn’t change anyone’s mind. During training camp, Corbin went down with a torn labrum and missed the entire 2015 campaign. He was able to take a redshirt, but this was not the start anyone would have hoped for. Let’s also not forget that was a year of turmoil for the team with three different head coaches leading the way within an eight-month span.

In steps Lovie Smith as the head coach in March 2016. Corbin comes back that season as a redshirt freshman and rushes the ball 86 times for 523 yards and two touchdowns. He showed sparks of greatness we hadn’t seen out of this kid.

The following year was another injury-plagued season. Corbin missed the first three games and was slow to get going. He didn’t get a lot of playing time only rushing the ball 18 times for 78 yards on the season. I blame this on a mix of injury and an offensive coordinator who didn’t have the right scheme in place.

Everything changed in the winter of 2018. Corbin was entering his redshirt junior season and Illinois just hired offensive coordinator Rod Smith in January. This was about to be the best thing to happen to Corbin’s career.

Corbin was sensational last season. He rushed the ball 128 times for 1085 yards and nine touchdowns. His best game was a 13 carry, 213-yard performance against Minnesota in which he also found the end zone twice as well. The fast-paced electric style of Coach Smith’s offense put Corbin in the right position to excel on the football field.

This great junior campaign earned Corbin a lot of national recognition. On Monday, The Maxwell Football Club announced their watch list for The Maxwell Award and Corbin found himself on this coveted list. This award is given to the College Player of the Year.

Getting on The Maxwell Award watch list is a big deal. This doesn’t happen very often. I would bet this isn’t the last watch list Corbin is a part of either. This kid has exceeded all expectations anyone had for him. He is a superstar in every form of the word.