Depth Chart Thoughts: Wide Receiver

A rundown of thoughts about each position on the Illinois roster, continuing with wide receiver.

Next up is the wideout position, a big bag of diverse athletes with plenty to prove…

First word that comes to mind: Quantity

Second word that comes to mind: Veteran

Third word that comes to mind: Varied

How I see the pecking order:
Martize Barr
Miles Osei
Ryan Lankford
Spencer Harris
Justin Hardee
Devin Church
Steve Hull

Don't read too much into my pecking order. I think all of those guys are going to see the field, especially Saturday against Southern Illinois. They're all capable of catching and running and yeah. They're all so different, too.

Wideout may be the most interesting position to track this season because the pool to draw from is so diverse and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will put four or five of them out there at the same time if he sees the need/fit.

Let's not get too bogged down with each player, but I see Barr as a guy that will work out in the slot, running short routes with the potential for YAC. That's why I'm giving him the nod at the top for the time being.

Osei is an intriguing player, obviously, given his past positions. He's spent time at quarterback, running back and on special teams, so he's been in just about every offensive state of mind possible. He has underrated qualities, speed, quickness, size and good enough hands. And he and quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase showed good chemistry during fall camp.

Lankford has elite speed, probably the fastest on the team. He's so small, though, that he can be taken out of the game plan by a physical corner. Go watch the Ohio State game from last season and see what Bradley Roby did to him. I think Cubit's offense may relieve some of the pressure on Lankford, with defenses not as able to key in on him like last season. That should help, but Lankford's one dimensional nature makes me hesitant to call him a No. 1-guy at the present moment.

Elsewhere, Spencer Harris will be solid, but not spectacular. He's a possession-type guy with going on four years of legit experience. Hardee is a young player on the rise, a guy I think is growing into a good to great receiver in the making. I still see next season being his big breakout, though. Church is a guy to keep an eye out for, as he probably would have played last year had it not been for his knee injury. He's another niche-type player due to his size (5-foot-8, 185), but he has speed and elusiveness and could be another YAC builder.

And finally, as I've said all spring, Steve Hull is the wildcard of the group. When healthy, I think Hull is the most natural looking athlete of the bunch. He's a football player that may not necessarily have a position, but he's too fast, too fluid, too skilled to not do something if he's out there. Being out there, though, has always been the issue. We'll see.

Brief breakdown:
Chunk yardage needed: Barr
Steady seniors: Osei, Harris
Burn, baby, burn: Lankford
Buy stock now: Hardee
Don't sleep on this kid: Church
Anything could happen: Hull

Final thought: It's not ideal, given the past stats and everything else. But I try not to use last season's offensive identity crisis as an indicator of what could happen this season. Slate is clean, in my opinion. I don't see this group producing one or two players that take the Big Ten by storm. I see this as a committee of sorts, a group of probably seven or eight players that are going to get a chance to do something in Cubit's quick-passing attack. I think you'll see a situation where some players pop out and make noise and then go dormant for series, quarters or games at a time while others emerge to do their thing.

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