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Ready for Love: Illinois Football’s Future RB



Illinois Football
Sep 4, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini running back Reggie Love III (23) runs through an opening as UTSA Roadrunners linebacker Charles Wiley (2) tries to make a stop during Saturday s game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Football is Ready for Love.

Illinois Football has had it pretty good at Running back. Just in the last few years, Reggie Corbin was a joy to watch for multiple years. After that, guys like Dre Brown and Mike Epstein did their best despite injuries. More recently, Illinois has had Chase Brown. Brown was truly a Heisman candidate this year, and was just incredibly reliable. The past decade or so, there has always been that clear cut heir to the running back position. However, this coming year looks to be different.

There are some questions at running back. All the backs are talented, that is for sure, however youth and injury history are two confounding factors. Josh McCray was the clear number 2 back, however only played a couple of games this year due to injury. He returned for the bowl game and clearly was not 100 percent. Talented youngsters like Aidan Laughery and Jordan Anderson are in the room, however Laughery struggled with injury all year and Anderson is rather raw at the position. Kaden Feagin was a prized recruit Illinois won over Notre Dame, however does he have the explosiveness to compete right away as a true freshman?

There is one back, however, that I think Illinois will have to heavily rely on. That is Reggie Love.

No, I will not repeat my corny pun for Reggie Love.

Reggie Love will be entering his junior season with the Illini. Love was a borderline 4 star recruit that had offers from Wisconsin and Arkansas. Each year, he has shown steady improvement. Though he does not have a large sample size after playing behind Brown and McCray, he showed quite a bit in the last two games of this season. Combined, Love had 23 carries for 138 yards, including an impressive touchdown against Northwestern.

With Love being the elder statesmen in the room, he will be competing with Josh McCray for a majority of the carries. Love will need to have an incredible offseason to prove he can be a consistent every down back, however given his performance to end the season, there is some optimism. It will be difficult to replace Chase Brown, however I do think that Love will be up to the challenge. Despite this, given McCray’s injury history and Love’s first time in a large role, I would not be surprised if Illinois looked to the transfer portal for additional help. Nonetheless, I am interested in how Illinois future at running back will look with Love at the helm.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is a Resident Physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Northwestern Medicine and has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS sports and more.