We’re a little more than a week away from Bret Bielema’s second spring game with Illinois (April 21, 6:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network), and there’s a lot of talent on the Illini’s roster.
Here’s a look at who you can expect to see later this month.
Quarterback - Tommy DeVito is the definitive number one and has consistently shown his arm strength, but he is still learning the offense. Former DII QB Ryan Johnson is the top backup with Art Sitkowski out. Samari Collier is third in line and has made a big jump in development.
Running Back - Chase Brown and Josh McCray have been limited this spring, which has given the younger backs a chance to showcase their abilities. Freshman Aiden Laughery has been mentioned as a guy that could line up anywhere and be productive, due to his speed and shiftiness. Freshman Jordan Anderson brings a different skill set of physicality and power, while senior Chase Hayden has shown improvement.
Wide Receiver - Isaiah Williams is still the top option at receiver. Casey Washington has been described as tough and dependable. Pat Bryant has made significant progress from his freshman to sophomore year, while freshman Shawn Miller continues to impress and will likely see plenty of playing time in 2022.
Tight End - Owen Anderson has been singled out as a player who has made the most of his opportunities with several other tight ends being limited. Tip Reiman is up around 260 pounds and expected to play a bigger role in 2022.
Offensive Line - Julian Pearl has been limited, which has allowed former JUCO Isaiah Adams to receive plenty of reps at left tackle and he’s been impressive. Former JUCO Zy Crisler has performed well at guard and tackle. Jordyn Slaughter is attempting to lock down a guard spot, while Alex Palczewski and Alex Pihlstrom have brought a veteran presence and have provided versatility along the line. There is solid depth as sophomores Josh Kreutz, Zachary Barlev and Josh Gesky have reportedly made big jumps in their development.
Defensive Line - Keith Randolph has missed most of spring with a minor injury, which has given the other defensive linemen a chance for more reps. Sed McConnell has made improvement, while Terah Edwards had flashed his athleticism. Jer’Zhan Newton is the leader of the group and continues to receive praise from the coaching staff. Evan Kirts has flipped from the offensive line to the defensive line for depth.
Inside Linebacker - Calvin Hart and Tarique Barnes are entrenched with the first team. Isaac Darkangelo, Kenny Odeluga and Dylan Rosiek are battling it out for the top backup status.
Outside Linebacker - Seth Coleman and Ezekiel Holmes have distanced themselves as the starters, while Shammond Cooper and Alec Bryant have come on strong as the backups. Cooper was flipping between inside and outside linebacker, but seems to have settled in at outside linebacker.
Cornerback - Devon Witherspoon and Tahveon Nicholson are the first team corners. Daniel Edwards and DD Snyder have added mass to their frames and are running with the second team. Quan Martin is still the starting Nickel. Elijah Mc-Cantos will miss all of spring with a shoulder injury.
Safety - Kionte Curry has displayed his impressive ability to play the ball in the air - reportedly recording an interception daily and being compared to Kerby Joseph by the coaching staff. Now he needs game experience. Kendall Smith pulled his name out of the transfer portal and is currently a starter beside Sydney Brown, who has also impressed.