Imatorbhebhe taking advantage of opportunity, leading Illini receivers


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Sometimes all you need is a chance to play. Josh Imatorbhebhe is living that reality, leading Illinois in receiving yards and touchdowns after the first three games. The USC grad transfer is averaging 55.6 yards per game and already has three scores for the Illini, who are tied for second best in the Big Ten with nine passing touchdowns.

Imatorbhebhe went for a game high 91 receiving yards in Saturday’s loss to Eastern Michigan, including the game tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The Georgia native capped a 36-yard play by stretching for the goal line over a defender, bringing the Illini crowd to its feet in appreciation for the effort to score and also tie the game.

“That last play was a thing of beauty, it was vertical,” Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith said. “You just saw his strength and athleticism.”

Imatorbhebhe had three of his four catches on the final Illini drive, as the Illinois offense went dormant in the second and third quarters. After scoring 17 in the opening 15 minutes, the Illini were shutout in the next 30 minutes. Finding that consistency is something Imatorbhebhe is focusing on as they get set to face Nebraska in the Big Ten opener Saturday night at 7 p.m.

“When you do what you’re supposed to do, you get what you’re supposed to get, honestly,” Imatorbhebhe said. “Everybody locked in for those last two drives and you saw the results on the scoreboard.”

During his time at USC, Imatorbhebhe only caught two passes for 11 yards in three years. The former 4-star prospect redshirted his first season, before playing sparingly the next two.

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