Illinois football has just lost our starting running back to the transfer portal.
The offseason is upon us, and the transfer portal is already hot, if not on fire. Coming into Thursday, the Illini hadn’t taken too much of a hit in regards to transfers. We had a lineman enter the transfer portal about a month ago, but that was the only player we had leave the program.
Around mid-Thursday, everything changed. Illinois’ roster started to go through a bit of an overhaul. The first news to drop was from kicker, Fabrizio Pinton. The sophomore started four games in 2022, but he didn’t get much action this season. So, a transfer was not shocking at all.
The Pinton transfer news then led into another player transferring. As I type this, I am still in a state of sadness mixed with shock mixed with disappointment.
Running back Reggie Love III has entered his name into the transfer portal.
I didn’t expect this news to break. I expected Love to get stronger this offseason and come back as one of the best running backs in the Big Ten. That is clearly not going to happen, though.
Love leaves Illinois after four years with the program. He had his best season in 2023 with 116 carries for 567 yards and four touchdowns. His biggest issue while with the Illini was being behind Chase Brown and injuries. The latter plagued him this season.
If I had to guess, being from St. Louis, Love might end up being the No. 1 running back for an FCS program like Southern Illinois. There is always a chance he tries to land with someone like Missouri and be a part of its rotation.
Illinois football is still in good hands at running back after losing Reggie Love III to the transfer portal
There is no reason to sugarcoat Love leaving. This departure hurts me as a fan and the program when it comes to depth. But Illinois seems to be in good hands at the running back position.
I think it was pretty clear this season that Kaden Feagin is about to take over the lead running back duties for the Illini. He entered his true freshman season with high expectations and didn’t disappoint.
Feagin had 95 carries for 438 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry compared to Love, who had 4.9 yards per carry in year four. Feagin has All-Big Ten written all over him. I believe he was going to enter 2024 as the starting running back, and that might be a reason why Love is departing.
I like what Illinois has behind Feagin too. Aidan Laughery, a redshirt freshman, was effective in his 16 carries this season averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Josh McCray is going to be back off injury in 2024. I am also curious about what Jordan Anderson can do at the running back position.
If you are an Illinois fan, you should be excited about Ca’Lil Valentine entering the picture too. He is a four-star running back coming in from the class of 2024. I will be curious to see if he can work his way up the depth chart.
It also wouldn’t shock me, especially with Love entering the transfer portal, if Illinois went out and snagged a transfer portal running back to help fill the void.
Love departing hurts, but Illinois should be okay moving forward. With Feagin as the lead running back, the future is bright for the Illini.