Before coming to Champaign, Dominic Thieman had a lot of hype surrounding him. He was a three-star recruit, named AP first-team All-State, lead his team to two championships and won the Michael Irvin Playmaker Award presented by Michael “The Playmaker” Irvin himself.
His accolades clearly showed that he could have become a great player with more Big Ten experience under his belt. However, no one expected Thieman to come in and become Dudek 2.0.
Thieman saw limited action in his freshman season, only playing in eight games and missing the last four with a broken ankle. He was only able to accumulate six receptions and 32 total yards during the limited opportunities he received that season. While the stats were not impressive, the Illini fans hoped for him to build on his first year and develop.
In his sophomore year, he played in 10 games and started in five of them. He had 11 receptions and 144 yards, which were 5th and 6th most on the team, respectively.
His best game came against Rutgers when he was able to haul in 59 receiving yards, including this 30-yard catch from Jeff George Jr.
Dominic Thieman wasn’t given many chances and didn’t produce enough when he got the opportunity. Nevertheless, He showed some promise and could have secured a bigger role next fall with the departure of WR’s Malik Turner and Sam Mays.
You never want to see a talented player leave, but the Illini passing game can still look to compete with Mike Dudek, Ricky Smalling, and Louis Dorsey all returning.