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Players We’re Hyped About: Tight End Louis Dorsey

The true freshman TE led Illinois in touchdown receptions in 2017.

Rutgers v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Illinois Fighting Illini sophomore Louis Dorsey returns as the top touchdown target from a year ago. Expectations for him are high even in the midst of uncertainty surrounding his role in a new offense led by a new offensive coordinator under a pretty shaky quarterback situation.

Dorsey was one of five Fighting Illini freshmen — and the only one on offense — to make BTN.com’s Big Ten All-Freshman Team. At 6-foot-6 and weighing 225 pounds (up from the 205 pounds he weighed as a high school senior), Dorsey is an imposing, athletic freak of a tight end who now understands what it’s like to endure the rigors of a Big Ten season.

To the video. Louis Dorsey had two remarkable catches in 2017 Illini fans won’t forget anytime soon.

The first was in the opener against Ball State. On what was a badly over-thrown ball by quarterback Jeff George Jr. for not much yardage, Louis Dorsey went sky high for the one-handed grab.

The second was against the Indiana Hoosiers. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Dorsey went 77 yards for the touchdown reception. His big body shielded Hoosiers safety Chase Dutra out of the pass window, and Dorsey made this big play look easy and routine. It was Illinois’ longest offensive play in 2017.

The Illinois offense drastically changes in 2018, and overall that’s a good thing: Illinois ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring offense, second-to-last in total offense and last in rushing offense last season. This was the worst Power 5 offense in the country, so it came as no surprise Lovie Smith wanted to shake up his staff on that side of the ball.

All three of Louis Dorsey’s touchdown receptions were balls thrown by Jeff George Jr., who transferred to Michigan this offseason. Now it appears Cam Thomas and AJ Bush are vying to be the 2018 starter. Beyond just a quarterback change is a completely new scheme under offensive coordinator Rod Smith. Smith was hired to replace the outgoing Garrick McGee back in January.

Rod Smith runs a lightning fast, no-huddle, uptempo system that resembles nothing like Garrick McGee’s system of the last two seasons. Rod Smith’s previous stop was working under Rich Rodriguez at Arizona for six seasons, and while that offense was high scoring and put up big numbers, tight ends were not really the focus of the Wildcats’ scheme.

This new-look offense will undoubtedly be better than it was last season — how can it not be? A major question and player to keep an eye on is Louis Dorsey. There’s no doubt the 19-year old can play, but will he transition into more of a slot receiver? A good coach and coordinator understands that in order to have some success in Year 1 as a new coach on the job, the new system has to be flexible enough to maximize the strengths of the roster already in place.

Louis Dorsey is one to watch in 2018.

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