I think there are numerous players who could have a breakout season in 2022. Illinois is loaded with potential talent. One name I have been waiting to see be great is Brian Hightower.
A former four-star wide receiver, Hightower would eventually make his way to Illinois after a stop at Miami (FL). His stop in Florida didn’t turn out the way he wanted it to, and his time with the Illini hasn’t been great either.
In his first season in Champaign, Hightower would finish with 11 catches for 209 yards and three touchdowns. This was a promising start. But, in 2021, Hightower wouldn’t catch a single pass. He would end up taking a redshirt after four games because “he didn’t feel like himself and didn’t think he could help the team at that moment.”
Hightower is now back in an Illinois uniform ready to dominate on the football field. He has done a great job impressive the coaching staff as well. In a recent interview with Bret Bielema, the head ball coach talks about Hightower and his abilities.
"“Another guy I am so excited to watch and play out this year is Hightower. By far, has played at a level that I haven’t seen him play at. Kinda always knew it was there, but physically, he looks different, catches the ball extremely well, very coachable, just everything you would want, I think Hi has done that.”"
We have seen glimpses of what Hightower can do on the football field. 19 yards per reception in 2020 is an impressive feat. He was able to go for 209 yards despite Illinois playing four different quarterbacks throughout the eight-game season.
In 2022, I fully expect Hightower to have a breakout year. He is one of the best wide receivers on the roster, and Illinois finally has a quarterback who can get him the ball. I think Hightower could realistically finish with 38 receptions for 650 yards and four touchdowns this year. He has all of the talent in the world and now lets him to his full potential.