Players to Watch in 2013 - No. 5

The list of Illinois players to watch rolls on with a junior college transfer that flashed potential in spring practice.

No. 5 - WR Martize Barr

He's not very tall.

That's all I can come up with. I'm trying to be as cynical as I can, as these preseason lists can get awfully sunshiny and rainbow-y.

But when it comes to Martize Barr, sunshine and rainbows are appropriate.

Put simply, the junior college transfer looked like a game-changer this spring. He's built well, runs fast, catches everything and can even play defense, too. The only real knocks are that he's on the short side (maybe six foot) and he's never played at the Big Ten level for a season.

He passes the eye test though, and at the wideout position, a unit filled with players that seem to have one awesome trait accompanied by a basket of question marks, Barr can make a difference.

During the spring practice time I got to see, it was hard not to keep watching Barr during drills -- not just when watching the wide receivers, but when scanning the entire field. I don't wanna gush on and on about it, but the guy has the 'it' factor. I don't know how you get it, but I sure can tell when a player has 'it'. Barr has it.

That's what this Illinois offense needs… Consistency is cool. That will be up to the quarterbacks not making mistakes, the line blocking and the running backs making positive yards. While you need all that to be successful, Barr seems to be the guy that can both make possession-style catches and also turn small plays into long gains. That big-play ability can widen the margin for error or staleness.

I'd move him around as much as possible, get him on the outside and in the slot. I'd run him on deep, intermediate and short routes. He's an OW -- an offensive weapon. He's got to be exploited to the max.

Illinois needs Barr this season. Hell, I need him, too. Imagine the headlines I can write if this dude does well.

Setting the Barr High. Passing the Barr Exam. Open Barr Tab. Twix Barr?

That last one won't work, but I love Twix. And if the potential is fulfilled, Illinois fans will love Barr.

No. 6 - DB Earnest Thomas
No. 7 - LEO Houston Bates
No. 8 - OL trio Hill, Karras, Cvijanovic
No. 9 - WR Ryan Lankford
No. 10 - TE Jon Davis

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