Illini add JUCO wideout to new-look receiving corps

Illini add JUCO wideout to new-look receiving corps
June 23, 2014, 11:45 pm
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Vinnie Duber

The Illini added another name to their stable of wide receivers on Monday.

Junior college wideout Raphael Barr was announced as the newest member of Tim Beckman's Class of 2014. He spent last season at Citrus College in California, where he caught 27 passes for 408 yards and six touchdowns. He also was a factor in the kick-return game. He'll be eligible to play this fall and has three years of eligibility remaining.

Beckman and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will welcome any help they can get in what will be a very different-looking pass game this season. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and receivers Steve Hull, Spencer Harris, Miles Osei and Ryan Lankford have all departed. That's not just the playmaking QB but three of the top four receivers from last season, plus Lankford, who was one of Scheelhaase's favorite targets before suffering a season-ending injury in the Illini's seventh game.

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Martize Barr is the only returning wideout who made a big impact last season. He was the team's fifth-best pass-catcher with 26 receptions for 246 yards. Including him, the Illini return only five of their top nine targets from a year ago, and four aren't even wideouts: running backs Josh Ferguson and Donvonn Young and tight ends Jon Davis and Matt LaCosse.

So while the Illini have plenty of names to choose from this fall, now including Raphael Barr, they'll be short on experience. Of the 14 wide receivers on Illinois' roster, Martize Barr is the lone senior.