2. Teko Powell - The rising junior continues to be one of the most talked about players on the roster when words like potential and NFL talent come up. He's just not been healthy enough to show all of that off. Powell had 22 tackles last season but again dealt with injuries in the offseason and the beginning of spring drills. If he hits a stretch of good health, he could move into the starting lineup and live up to his billing.
3. Justin Hardee - Hardee was buried on the depth chart in 2013 after a freshman season that included 17 catches for 192 yards. Seniors Steve Hull and Miles Osei moved to the wide out position and earned reps over Hardee, who caught 11 passes and received some tough love from Cubit. Don't call it a sophomore slump. It was just a matter of too many older, talented guys ahead of him. Now he's the receiver with the most career catches on the roster and has used the offseason and spring to demonstrate he's ready to command as many targets as anybody else.
4. Eric Finney - The rising junior seemed poised to start in 2013 before a knee injury in fall camp set him back. He was sidelined into the fall and didn't retake his starting position from Mike Svetina when he came back. Finney finished his first year at Illinois with 16 tackles, receiving much of playing time near the end of the season as he caught up to speed. He'll have to deal with Earnest Thomas on the depth chart, but at a minimum Finney should provide quality depth and a stands a chance of playing meaningful downs at the Star position.
5. Taylor Barton - The rising redshirt sophomore lost his starting gig midway through the 2013 campaign, sent to the sideline after Zane Petty proved himself ready to go. Barton finished the year with 36 tackles and an interception and is the beneficiary of Thomas moving to Star. Barton ran with the first team defense for most of spring and is in line to once again start.