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Illinois Football 2019: Players to Watch

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A familiar face could be leading the Illini offense this year.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan will take on Illinois for the first time since 2016 this fall (and only the second time since 2012). The Wolverines drubbed the Illini 41-8 in that contest, and this year’s game shouldn’t look too different on the scoreboard. However, there are some interesting names to watch as the season gets closer.

Illinois Players to Watch:

QB Brandon Peters

After spending the first few years of his career at Michigan, Peters transferred to Illinois this offseason. He was buried on the depth chart at U-M, so the move made sense for both sides. Now he’s in a battle for the starting job with the Fighting Illini and has a great shot to win it. He’s competing against 5-star freshman Isaiah Williams, but Lovie Smith could favor Peters, who has the obvious edge in experience.

At Michigan, Peters completed 52.7 percent of his passes for 680 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.

RB Reggie Corbin

One of the few things Illinois was good at last season was running the ball. As a team, the Illini ranked No. 12 nationally in rushing yards per game (243). Corbin is the team’s leading rusher and figures to have an even better senior season.

Illinois will have depth at the running back position as well, as it brings back three other running backs who combined for almost 1,000 yards last season.

In 2018, Corbin ran for 1,085 yards and nine touchdowns on 128 carries. He also had 176 receiving yards.

LB Jake Hansen

Defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree could also be on this list, but he may not play this season after a bad offseason spinal injury. Hansen, however, is healthy and poised to lead a solid group of linebackers.

The Illinois defense was the worst in the Big Ten last year, giving up nearly 40 points per game. It will need to be significantly better if the Illini want to reach a bowl game. Hansen can be the catalyst.

Last year, he had 95 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and one sack.