Illinois football kicks off the 2022 season against Wyoming in less than two weeks.
There is a lot of talent on the team this season. Up and down the depth chart, the potential is through the roof. There are a few players who I think could have the biggest breakout year, though.
Here are the three Illinois football players poised to have a breakout year in 2022.
Reggie Love III
Illinois’ running back room might be the strongest position group on the team. I can honestly say, I don’t think we have had this deep of running back depth in my lifetime.
The Illini No. 1 and No. 2 running backs on the depth chart are pretty much set heading into the 2022 campaign. Chase Brown is going to lead the way, as he is one of the best running backs in the nation and has made preseason third-team All-Big Ten.
But the third-string running back spot is up for grabs. One player who seems to be gaining momentum for this role is Reggie Love III.
As a high three-star running back coming out of high school, Love was poised to do some great things at Illinois. But he has run into some serious depth on the roster. Even with that depth, Love has still made the most out of the snaps he has received. Just this past season, he had 44 rushes for 158 yards. It seems that those numbers will grow in 2022.
In the first scrimmage of the fall, Love was one of the top players who stood out for Bret Bielema. At this point, I expect Love to get the nod as Illinois’ No. 3 running back, much like last season. Don’t be shocked if he doubles his workload and output this season. Illinois has to replace 52 carries from last year’s team that departed the program. I could see the bulk of those snaps going to Love.
I expect Love to finish the 2022 campaign with something like 90 carries for 432 yards and three touchdowns. That comes out to 4.8 yards per carry, which would be a nice upgrade from his 3.6 YPC last season.