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Mikey Dudek is the heart and soul of the Fighting Illini

Junior wide receiver struggled but provided glimpses of his ability.

His season started out with such promise.

September 2nd, 2017 couldn't have come any faster for junior Mikey Dudek, as the star receiver from Neuqua Valley had missed the last two years due to injuries to his knees after setting the Illinois freshman receiving record in 2014.

Dudek would be experiencing the first game action in what probably seemed like an eternity, and he made it count. Ball State was the first game of the year and as an Illinois offense slogged through four quarters, Ball State took the lead late in the fourth quarter. Luckily for Illinois, Mikey Dudek then did what he does best. He made a play.

That play set up the go-ahead score and the Illini walked off with the win after a blocked field goal. Disaster averted. You can thank #18 for that.

Now, as a receiver he struggled to put many solid games together, finishing with only 262 yards receiving on 24 (come on Garrick McGee, really?) catches, but that was largely due to an offense that didn't seem to prioritize getting the ball in playmaker's hands. Dudek also dealt with another injury late in the season that caused him to miss some time as well.

However, the skies the limit for the now-senior leader, as Rod Smith's new offensive system will make sure Dudek will see plenty of targets his way. Maybe finally, four years later, we'll finally get to see that talent flourish once again.

Illinois doesn’t deserve you, Mikey Dudek.