Big Ten Football: Each team’s most important newcomer for 2020

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CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 02: The Illinois Fighting Illini helmet on the field in the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium on November 02, 2019, in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

WR
James Frenchie
Freshman WR

The Illinois Fighting Illini had what can only be called a resurrection to their season. They were in the cellar of the Big Ten West before Thanksgiving. Then they upset Wisconsin and were off to the races putting together a winning streak that got them into a bowl game.

The streak was spurned on by a defense that created turnovers and kept opponents out of the endzone. Their offense did their best not to lose games and score when they could.

What the Fighting Illini need with this small recruiting class — just13 players — is some explosion on offense. Michigan transfer Brandon Peters proved to be serviceable at quarterback, and Reggie Corbin was a solid option at running back.

However, they had no explosive players on offense. That’s where James Frenchie comes in. Don’t let his diminutive stature fool you; he is an explosive offensive player. Watching him play puts you in the mind of Roscoe Parrish or even Rondale Moore Jr. — small in stature but hard to catch with the ball in their hand.

He is great in the slot and is a match-up nightmare. Frenchie is dynamic in the jet sweep and screen game with an ability to track the ball deep. With his hands and speed, he could start as a true freshman or get significant touches.

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