No Small Role: Ricky Smalling embracing go-to-guy mentality

Illini

URBANA (WCIA) — Ricky Smalling isn’t running away from it, he’s comfortable being the go-to guy and it’s a role the Illinois sophomore receiver is embracing in new offensive coordinator Rod Smith’s system.

“That’s been my mindset since I stepped on campus, I think I can do that this year,” Smalling said. “It fits our personality as a wide receiver corps, very fast, speed, can make plays in the open field.”

Smalling led the Illini in receiving yards (510) as a true freshman last season, tying for the team lead in receptions (31). The Chicago native caught two touchdowns, just one behind team leader Louis Dorsey, also as a true freshman.

“There is a normal progression you expect the guys to make,” Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said. “You can’t skip a step, as I’ve said, so all of these second-year guys should be a better football player and do a lot of those things we ask them to do better.”

Illinois is back on the practice field Wednesday from 9-11 a.m. at the Campus Rec Fields. That’s a time change from the original schedule from 3-5 p.m.

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