CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Saturday is a day Aidan Laughery will never forget.
With Illinois deep in Florida Atlantic territory, the freshman running back rattled off a 19-yard run — the longest rush from either team at the time.
Aidan Laughery 19 yard rush.— Illinois Football Focus (@IlliniFB) September 23, 2023
The Illini fed him again the next play, resulting in Laughery’s first-career score from three yards out.
Head coach Bret Bielema said postgame that he walked up to his back before the game and told him he would score.
“It’s a good type of pressure,” Laughery said. “It feels good to have that reinforcement from your head coach.”
Normally functioning as a kick returner, Laughery’s only offensive touch of the season prior to Saturday was a reception last weekend against Penn State.
In his redshirted 2022 season, Laughery ran the ball three times for only nine yards, but his first two rushes of this season amounted to 22 yards and a touchdown.
“I was just ready for my opportunity to come,” Laughery said.
This monumental touchdown for the young running back gave the Illini a 20-10 lead late in the third quarter. His three-yard score played a big factor in the six-point win.