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Illinois Football Season Preview Pt. 3: The Pass Catchers



Illinois football season preview pt. 3: The Pass Catchers
Jan 2, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Isaiah Williams (1) runs with the ball as Mississippi State Bulldogs safety Collin Duncan (19) defends during the first half in the 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Football Season Preview Pt. 3: The Pass Catchers

Let’s not bury the lede here. If Illinois football wants to take the next step and play for a Big Ten Championship, they must produce more explosive plays on the perimeter. The passing game improved last season. Tommy Devito was solid, and the passing game was not a liability. That said, the offense had an element of “Chase Brown or Bust” by how it played. This season, Chase Brown will be breaking tackles for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Devito is attempting to earn a roster spot with the New York Giants.

Low Floor, High Ceiling

Luke Altmyer is the new starting quarterback for the Illini, and he’s an upgrade over Devito as far as his ceiling. However, Altmyer and the receiver room are largely unproven. Though three of its top pass catchers (Isaiah Williams, Pat Bryant, and Casey Washington) return, they have not shown the ability to hit explosive plays in the passing game. So, who will make the explosive plays in the passing game?

Can the young prospects take snaps?

One of the important characteristics of a program’s talent depth is younger players challenging for and taking snaps from veterans. Illinois football needs one of these young, talented receivers to challenge for and take snaps from the vets. There is one wide receiver who has taken on that mentality. Malik Elzy was the top-rated player from the Chicago Public League, and he’s not waiting on his chance to start. “I’m looking to start as a true freshman and prove my point,” Elzy said. “Prove my hard work paid off and be the guy everybody expected me to be.”

Elzy is not the only young receiver to keep an eye on. Kenari Wilcher is another young receiver that could challenge for snaps. Wilcher was recruited as an athlete and is transitioning to wide receiver full-time.


Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.