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Players We’re Hyped About: Running Back Mike Epstein

The sophomore looks to thrive in Rod Smith’s offense.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Epstein’s only a sophomore, but he’s already stuck through it with the Illini and three different head coaches. Epstein, a native of Fort Lauderdale and a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas, committed to the Tim Beckman Regime prior to his junior year in high school. Bigger programs came calling when he excelled as an upperclassman at Aquinas and, despite Illini football going through a tremendous amount of instability, Epstein stayed true to his commitment and came to Champaign.

When he arrived on campus, Epstein immediately showed up in fall camp. He started Week 1 against Ball State and scored two touchdowns. Epstein led the Illini in rushing with 346 yards on 57 carries, adding three touchdowns on the ground and one receiving in an injury-shortened campaign.

His most promising play of 2017 was 58-yard run against Iowa that set up an Illini touchdown against Iowa.

Unfortunately, Epstein would injure his foot in the second half against the Hawkeyes and miss the rest of the season. After an offseason of rehab and with Rod Smith taking the Offensive Coordinator duties in Champaign, expect big things from the sophomore in 2018.