The Essential List: Taylor Zalewski

A look at Taylor Zalewski -- one of a select group of players essential to the Illinois cause heading in to spring drills.

Taylor Zalewski - Kicker - 6-2, 220, Junior

The Word: Unpredictable swirling winds inside Memorial Stadium and all, Zalewski took to his full-time starting duties fairly well last season. There were some misses, but he converted at a 70 percent clip and was virtually automatic inside of 40 yards (10 for 12).

2013: 12 of 17, long of 51. 38-38 on extra points.

Expectation: So why is a kicker on the Essential List? Because the margin for error is such that a player entering his third season as a starter has to A) take of his duties and be dependable. B) Continue developing and grow into a player that impacts the game. Who knows how good the Illinois defense will be next season. And the offense has to replace quite a bit. At a minimum, Zalewski has to be steady and consistent. He needs to convert when called upon, and his track record on shorter kicks is where it needs to be. That alone will help take some pressure off his teammates to play perfect ball. His task in 2014 will be to extend his trustworthy range out a little bit further.

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