Illinois Football: 3 reasons Brian Hightower being eligible is important

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - APRIL 14: Brian Hightower #7 catches the ball while being defended by DJ Ivey #8 of the Miami Hurricanes during the spring game on April 14, 2018 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** DJ Ivey;Brian Hightower
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - APRIL 14: Brian Hightower #7 catches the ball while being defended by DJ Ivey #8 of the Miami Hurricanes during the spring game on April 14, 2018 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** DJ Ivey;Brian Hightower /
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MIAMI GARDENS, FL – APRIL 14: Brian Hightower #7 makes a one handed catch for a touchdown behind Jhavonte Dean #6 of the Miami Hurricanes on April 14, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

3. Improvement in elongated spring practice

If Hightower wasn’t eligible this season, he would have practiced, probably not with the first team, and he would have watched from the sidelines. This doesn’t help a player much on the development side. That isn’t the case anymore, though.

Hightower can now play the 2020 season, so he is going to be on the first team and practicing with all of the starters. This is huge for his development as he gets to practice with the players who he will be out there on the field with in the future.

But, more importantly, Hightower gets to play this season without using a year of eligibility. He is essentially playing on house money, so it should be looked at as one big spring practice in my eyes.

The 2020 campaign – likely played in 2021 – has some meaning record-wise, but it shouldn’t be a make or break year. We have all of the players back in 2021 and that is the season that matters at this point. So, let’s work on gelling and getting players into the fold more often.

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Hightower getting games under his belt with the Illini without the games counting toward his eligibility is huge for his progression as a player. This upcoming season will only help him. The fact he received immediate eligibility is huge for him. He now gets to improve on house money.