While the 2017 Illini offense struggled to get the ball into the endzone, Chase McLaughlin did his part to put it through the uprights. His ability to make field goals ended up being the difference between victory and overtime in the Illini win over Ball State, and it narrowed the deficit in other games.
His talent and importance to the team in 2017 was plain to see. During that season, McLaughlin led all players in total points scored with 53 — which wasn’t a hard margin with the anemic offense. He was also a perfect 17-17 in PATs and 9-9 in field goals within 40 yards.
McLaughlin is a talented kicker and he certainly demonstrated that on the field in 2017, but he burst onto the scene for many Illini fans through the entertaining “Kickers Are People Too” trick shot videos that he made during his younger days:
Good kickers can help teams to win close games, and they are imperative in overtime situations. The offense simply must score more touchdowns in 2018 if the Illini are going to substantially improve, but it is reassuring to know that the team can put at least some points on the board with good field position through McLaughlin’s kicking next season.
By holding the kicker position down through the 2018 season, McLaughlin can also ensure that newcomer (and blueshirt) Caleb Griffin is brought along slowly.