The Illinois football team just saw another one of its players receive some preseason love.
The award is given to the best tight end in the country. Notable winners of the award include Kyle Pitts (2020), T.J Hockenson (2018), Mark Andrews (2017), Hunter Henry (2015), Tyler Eifert (2012), along with many more elite recipients.
By being added to the John Mackey watch list, Ford became the second Illini to receive some preseason love after senior running back Chase Brown was added to the Maxwell Award watch list, which is an award given to the college player of the year.
Brown was also added to the Doak Walker Award watch list– an award given to the nation’s top running back.
Illinois football has a budding star in tight end Luke Ford.
Last season, Ford started all 12 games at tight end, finishing fifth on the team with 15 receptions and racking up 114 receiving yards and two touchdowns. These numbers come after his very limited role under Lovie Smith’s 2020 offense, where he caught just two passes for 15 yards.
Ford was one of the most highly-touted recruits coming out of high school. The former four-star prospect was ranked the No. 51 player in the class of 2018 and the No. 3 tight end in the country. He was also the No. 1 player in Illinois. He racked up 31 offers before ultimately committing to Georgia, where he spent just one season before transferring to Illinois.
Expect Ford to be much more productive this season given the departure of tight end Daniel Barker, who played a key role in the Illini offense last season. The improvement of the quarterback room with the addition of senior transfer Tommy DeVito will also give Ford more of an opportunity to get back to elite status.