CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — He was the lead wide receiver at Valprasio University, but Donny Navarro knew it just wasn’t enough.
“I really wanted to play at a higher level, and felt like I could compete at a higher level,” Navarro said. “Illinois has always been my dream school, I’ve always wanted to compete at this level, and ahcieve that.”
Navarro never got an offer from the Illini out of high school but after 32 receptions for 539 yards with the Crusaders, he earned a spot as a preferred walk-on. Navarro sat out the regular season due to transfer rules, but it was a beneficial trasntion year, to prepare for the level of Big Ten football.
“It was a big mental year as well for me,” Navarro said. “There was a lot of learning that I had to do, and really just getting used to the speed. I was on the scout team so I was going against the 1 defense every weeek, so it was a good opportunity to improve my skills.”
The sophomore reciver has taken full advantage of the opportunity. In fact, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for him. Last season, Illinois ranked 12th in the Big Ten for recieving, and after losing Mikey Dudek and Edwin Carter due to injurues, Navarro adds much-needed depth to the wide reciver unit.
“He’s done well, very pleased with Donny, he’s a very conscientious guy,” wide receiers coach Andre Hayes-Stoker said. “He works at it, he loves football, he’s continuing to grow and get better. He’s in a heated competition battle right now.”
“It’s a good spot to be in, really for me it’s just keep improving, keep learning, and continue to grasp the offense and just keep working,” Navarro said.
Navarro went to the same high school as Mikey Dudek, Neuqua Valley in Naperville.