Big hits: Illinois will be without key WR, RB and OL for upcoming season
Illinois’ offense is going to look much different during the 2020 season. Three key players on the Fighting Illini roster will not be playing this fall, according to a report from Jeremy Werner of Illini Inquirer.
Three-year starting wide receiver Ricky Smalling, top returning running back Ra’Von Bonner and 23-game participant and center Jake Cerny will not be members of the Illinois football team in 2020. Smalling will not return to Champaign for his senior season, while Bonner and Cerny will not participate due to personal reasons.
Smalling started in 28 of 30 career games during his time with the Fighting Illini, and totaled 1,141 yards and 8 touchdowns on 88 receptions in three years. Last year, the receiver appeared in seven games and totaled 24 receptions for 225 yards and a score.
Bonner had more career rushing yards and touchdowns than any returning Illinois running back. Over the last three seasons, Bonner racked up 822 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground while adding 83 yards and another TD as a pass-catcher.
Cerny has appeared in 23 games along Illinois’ offensive line and is a fifth-year senior. His lone start came in last year’s Redbox Bowl game against Cal.
Illinois is coming off a 6-7 season in 2019, reaching a bowl game for the first time under head coach Lovie Smith. These will certainly big large vacancies to fill heading into 2020 with those three losses.