First let's take a look at the Illinois offense... As always, take this with more than a couple grains of salt…
There's no real surprises here, as this was the customary starting group throughout spring drills. Lewis is the feel good story embarking on one final year after enduring five knee surgeries. Karras had a breakout year last season, starting all 12 games as a redshirt freshman. Hill, Heitz and Cvijanovic are entering their third year on campus.
I see this as a good unit to work with. There are, however, reasons to be concerned as you read on. Listed as the backups: Austin Schmidt, Joe Spencer, Jake Feldmeyer, Chris O'Connor and Patrick Flavin.
That's right, a true freshman, a redshirt freshman, two sophomores and a senior -- all of those players are essentially an injury away from being a starter.
At quarterback, you already know. Nathan Scheelhaase is the starter, followed by Reilly O'Toole and Chase Haslett. Barring injury, I don't see O'Toole overtaking Scheelhaase. And I don't think it will be long before Aaron Bailey starts climbing the ladder.
The running back starter is listed as Donovonn Young OR Josh Ferguson. Young, to me, is the clearcut starter for two reasons: He's the better player and Ferguson can't stay healthy. Dami Ayoola is currently the third listed back with Lakeith Walls fourth.
Tight end has the versatile, oh-so-much-potential-begging-to-be-fulfilled, Jon Davis listed as the starter. Senior Evan Wilson is his backup, with Matt LaCosse and Tim Clary filling out the unit. That's not too shabby.
Wide receiver is kind of all over the place. Seniors Ryan Lankford, Miles Osei and Spencer Harris are the listed starters. Talk about a bunch of different paths to this point and a unique batch of skill sets.
Lankford is the speedster, Harris the possession type and Osei falls somewhere in the middle (and I'm sure he could be involved in a trick play or two, like a double pass or something).
Behind those guys, Martize Barr, Justin Hardee and Steve Hull are found. I think Barr could be the best wideout on the team, at least the most explosive. Hull has good speed and good hands -- just have to see how he adjusts after moving from safety. Hardee, from my point of view, is one of the more exciting young players on the team. I think he could grow into a great player down the road, a guy that could help out this season after showing good signs as a freshman in 2012.