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Meet Hank Beatty, the Illinois High School Gatorade Football Player of the Year

The underrated wide receiver will have opportunities to step up.

Hank Beatty was the first Illinois native to commit to Coach Bret Bielema in the 2022 recruiting class and he will join the Illini as the reigning Illinois High School Gatorade Player of the Year for football. According to his prospect profile, his lead recruiter was wide receivers coach George McDonald.

Beatty stands at 5-feet-11 and weighs 175 pounds. There is not a good comparison for Beatty on the current roster, but if one had to be made it would be to Brian Hightower. Hightower has a bigger frame than Beatty, but both exhibit the ability to make difficult catches and create separation despite not having elite top end speed. Beatty also played quarterback in high school, whereas Hightower did not.

Despite not being considered a “burner,” Beatty has enough speed to create separation from the defender and displays excellent hands with a large catch radius. He’s a good athlete who will extend to make a play and can win 50/50 matchups when the ball is in the air. On film, Beatty shows a keen awareness for angles when he’s in the open field, allowing him to gain yards after the catch or prolong the play when there is an opportunity.

Most of Beatty’s offers were local, but he did have a few notable offers that included Air Force and Iowa State. Beatty finished the year as a 2-star, according to Rivals. Two stars are usually reserved for Group of 5 players, but Beatty certainly has the potential to be productive at the Power 5 level. A more accurate rating would probably be 5.5 and 3 stars.

Beatty put up big numbers in high school, hence the Gatorade Player of the Year award. Illinois is in need for some wide receivers to step up, but expectations for Beatty in year one should be tempered, as he’ll likely redshirt and potentially play on special teams. Beyond that, he could develop into a receiver that consistently makes catches to move the chains and a reliable red zone option.