Illini football looks to replicate big play threat this season


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Reggie Corbin doesn’t need a big hole on the line to break a big run, but it sure makes it a whole lot easier. The Illinois senior had plenty of free space to make big plays last season, leading the nation with four runs of 70+ yards or more. It’s not something the Illini running back necessarily focuses on, he’s just happy to have wide open field in front of him.

“I don’t focus on any of that, I just play as hard as I can,” Corbin said. “If I go as hard as I can, I’ll let God take care of the rest.

Corbin is coming off a breakout junior year that saw him run for 1,085 yards, just one season after only putting up 78 yards. His 8.5 yards per carry last season ranked third in the nation during the regular season. That number includes his season long run of 80 yards at Wisconsin, tying for 10th longest in Illinois history.

“He’s that type of player and obviously it’s not going to be easy, it’s never easy but like I tell him all the time, we can’t stay the same,” Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith said. “We can’t come out here and expect to be the same, we’ve got to be better. Gotta be better, that’s the expectation.”

Fellow senior running back Dre Brown also showed breakout potential last season, breaking out for a 72-yard run against Minnesota. Wide receiver Ricky Smalling shined against the Gophers too, with a 67-yard touchdown reception. Corbin, Brown and Smalling all return to the Illini offense for the season opener against Akron Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.

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