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Malik Turner: Through Thick and Thin

The senior receiver gave the 2017 season everything he had.

NCAA Football: Ball State at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Turner faced considerable adversity during his four years in Champaign.

He played under three different head coaches and saw many of his receptions go to younger players during his senior year. In spite of it all, Turner finished his career with the ninth-most receiving yards (1,804) and ninth-most receptions (143) in Illini football history.

He was one of Illinois’ most consistent receiving threats in 2017, despite the inconsistency he was forced to deal with at the quarterback position.

He also displayed the characteristic jukes and moves that he used to gain yards after the catch:

Despite his talent and his record of prior success at Illinois, Turner saw fewer receptions in 2017 due to the emergence of WR Ricky Smalling and TE Louis Dorsey as the main Illini receiving targets. As a tall and long receiver recruited for Bill Cubit’s offense, Turner also found himself at a disadvantage in Garrick McGee’s offensive schemes relative to the shorter and quicker freshmen receivers who McGee prioritized.

Regardless, Turner played an irreplaceable role in 2017 as an upperclassman leader on a team that was sorely lacking experienced players. His leadership and skill no doubt aided in the development of the young Illini receivers like Smalling, Carmoni Green, Kendall Smith, and others. Turner’s career accomplishments represent a glimmer of light during what was otherwise one of Illinois football’s darkest four-year stretches in recent memory.