URBANA (WCIA) — Wearing an Illini jersey was never part of the plan for Josh Imatorbhebhe.
“I see it as an act of God, I didn’t know I was going to end up here,” the Illini wide receiver said. “Everything has smoothly progressed as I’ve been here, so I just got to trust the plan.”
Imatorbhebhe thought he had it all figured out after graduating high school in Georgia, signing with his dream school Southern California. But after catching only 2 passes for 11 yards as Trojan, the wide receiver entered the transfer portal last season.
“I was listening to the 15-year old kid that wanted to be great, that wanted to go to the NFL, that wanted to achieve all of his dreams,” Imatorbhebhe said. “I kinda felt like I reached a plateau at SC, I wasn’t really able to do everything that I wanted to do.”
Imatorbhebhe brings that unfinished business to Champaign. As a former 4-star recruit and a Top-200 player nationally, the 6-foot-2, 215 pound wide out recorded a 47 inch vertical jump in 2015 at ‘The Opening’ and says it’s just one of the many things he adds to the Illini.
“Strong hands, big body, he’s a guy that’s got some veteran presence to himself,” Illinois wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stokoer said. “A guy that’s just had missed opportunities. So he’s looking for an opportunity here, and we’re looking to draw the most out of him right now, but I like his work ethic.”
The Illini have been lacking depth in the wide receiver room and it’s those opportunities that brought Imatorbhebhe to Champaign, along with his immediate connection to offensive coordinator Rod Smith. His former Trojan teammates Trevon Sidney and Oluwole Betiku also played a part.
“I just felt believed in again, I just felt comfortable,” Imatorbhebhe siad. “And I’d say he was one of the biggest factors, if not the biggest factor in the reason of why I’m here today.”
While that decision may have changed the path for Imatorbhebhe, it’s all part of the bigger plan to make an impact on the field.