Illinois Football: 5 Illini freshmen who will make the biggest impact

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 13: An Illinois Fighting Illini helmet sits on top of a dryer on the sidelines during the Big Ten Conference college football game between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 13, 2018, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 13: An Illinois Fighting Illini helmet sits on top of a dryer on the sidelines during the Big Ten Conference college football game between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 13, 2018, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 02: The Illinois Fighting Illini helmet on the field in the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium on November 02, 2019 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

2. Reggie Love – Freshman – Running Back

When you watched Reggie Love at the high school level, you could tell this kid was going to be something special at the next level. That next level has arrived and it is time for Love to burst onto the scene.

Love was a highly-rated recruit coming out of Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis. He was rated as a three-star recruit and the No. 428 player in the class of 2020. I would argue Love is one of the most important newcomers to the team. His importance increased even more in recent weeks.

Due to COVID-19, Illinois running back Ra’Von Bonner decided to sit out the 2020 campaign. That is a blow to the depth at running back for the Illini. If you mix in the fact Illinois lost Reggie Corbin and Dre Brown for the 2019 rendition of the team, then you have a lot of snaps to replace.

Love is going to have his chance to make an early impact on the Illini. I don’t know if I see him starting year one, but he is going to get a lot of snaps.

I know the addition of Chase Brown last season from Western Michigan was a big pick up for the Orange and Blue. The coaching staff has loved him in the backfield. It wouldn’t shock me to see Brown start the 2020 campaign.

Illinois also has Mike Epstein coming back. He is someone, if healthy, can be the best running back on the team. I loved what Epstein could do coming out of high school. But his injuries have absolutely derailed his career. I do see him being in the rotation, though.

Love is going to have a lot of important snaps in 2020. He might even get a few starts. This kid will make an impact and be one of the most important freshmen we have on the team.