QBs, Receivers Getting in Sync in Rantoul

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Mikey Dudek makes a catch at Camp Rantoul Mikey Dudek makes a catch at Camp Rantoul
RANTOUL -- It looked like one of those days when things just clicked.

By the end of practice 11 and 12 of the camp season on Wednesday, it was clear the Illinois QBs and receivers were starting to get to know each other -- on the field.

It's not a perfect machine -- not just yet -- but considering the quarterback (whoever it is), and most of the receiver group will be brand new to Illinois, Wednesday's showing was a big first step.

Multiple players stepped up, from senior Martize Barr, who was navigating his way through traffic for receptions.

Fellow senior Justin Hardee is showing the poise of a position-group leader.

Most notably, though, is the emergence of the youngsters. True freshman Malik Turner, in just his 2nd week of college football training camp, is looking more and more like a polished receiver.

"You can tell how he's been coached (in high school), and he's come into this program, and he competes," said head coach Tim Beckman, and not for the first time this week.

Another true freshman, Mikey Dudek, continued to show that his impressive spring was no fluke. At an unassuming 5'11", 185 pounds, Dudek isn't the big receiver Illinois targeted with the junior college transfers in the offseason, but he's proving to be a non-negotiable part of the gameplan.

"You have guys like Martize and Justin who have been here awhile, but they know that there are only certain plays that they're going to get," said wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy. "They're not going to be asked to do certain things that Mikey can do or Malik can do. As a coaching staff, we'll go inside and talk about what's important for our offense to be successful, and we'll put those guys in that position."

The Illini will hold a closed scrimmage Saturday, which Beckman tabbed as an important day for some of these position battles.

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