CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Deuce Spann has a new nickname and through the first three games of the season, he’s more than living up to it.
“They call me big place Deuce,” says the second-year freshman.
“I’ll call him whatever he wants to be as he’s making big plays,” says head coach Bret Bielema. “Hope it’s not like jumbo shrimp, right, not an oxymoron, so hopefully big play Deuce sticks.”
And so far, the Illini redshirt freshman has been a highlight machine. Spann made a surprise move from quarterback to wideout just two weeks before the season opener. Now the 6’4″ Florida-native is the Illini’s go-to deep threat. His first catch was a 45-yard pass that nearly went for a touchdown.
“It was exciting because that was the first time I actually made a play in a college game before,” says Spann.
“He’s got to get a bigger role every week and Deuce is super fired up, we’re fired up about Deuce, love where he’s at right now,” says offensive coordinator Tony Petersen. “The more we’ve got him in the football game, the better off we are.”
Spann has made the transition look easy with three catches in three games for 109 yards and two touchdowns. And he’s not doing it alone. Isaiah Williams also made the move from QB to wide receiver this offseason.
“My biggest thing I tell him is just go out there and have fun,” says Williams. “Be unique and do you, be special.”
“He’s an athlete so he’s good at everything so I took it as I can do the same thing that he did,” says Spann. “At quarterback you’ve got to know everything so at receiver, it’s really kind of easier a little bit because you’ve only got to know one thing.”
More than anything, Spann brings speed.
“Yeah, I don’t even think it’s close,” says Williams to a question on Spann being the fastest on the team.
“He’s next level like Olympic speed, so I mean, the dude’s really fast,” says running back Chase Brown.
And at this point, the competition is still trying to catch up.