Kaden Feagin shines in debut season for Illinois football
Illinois running back Kaden Feagin, a true freshman, has become the team's leading rusher after starter Reggie Love's injury. He scored his first collegiate touchdown in a win over Maryland and got his first score at Memorial Stadium the following week. Feagin is hoping to help his hometown team secure a postseason spot.
Kaden Feagin, a running back for Central Illinois, has had an impressive start to his collegiate career. As a true freshman, Feagin has become the Illini's leading rusher, especially stepping up in recent weeks after starter Reggie Love suffered an injury. Feagin scored his first collegiate touchdown in a win against Maryland and followed it up with another touchdown the following week at Memorial Stadium.
What made the second touchdown even more special for Feagin was that it was in the south end zone, facing his hometown of Atwood, which is just a half hour away from Champaign. Feagin described the experience as a great feeling, seeing the fans go crazy and receiving support from his fellow running backs.
Illinois and Feagin are now entering the final stretch of the regular season, with a Saturday contest against Minnesota. Feagin sees this as another opportunity to help his hometown team make a late push for a postseason spot. However, with a current record of 3-5, Illinois needs to win three of their final four games to secure bowl eligibility. This means they will need to win either the game against Minnesota or the game against Iowa on November 18th. Both Minnesota and Iowa are currently tied for first place in the Big Ten West.
Fortunately, Illinois may have some reinforcements for these crucial games. Coach Bret Bielema revealed that Keith Randolph and Reggie Love have both been practicing this week, indicating that they could return for the game against Minnesota. Love would provide a boost as one of the team's top running backs, while Randolph would give Illinois a much-needed option at defensive end in the absence of Johnny Newton for the first half.
Bielema emphasized the importance of their performance in practice and how they feel the next day, as it will determine their readiness for the game. The team is excited about the potential return of these key players.
In the meantime, Gabe Jacas has been moved to defensive end, and either him, Bryce Barnes, or Sed McConnell could start alongside Randolph on Saturday.
In other news, Illinois' star defensive lineman Johnny Newton has been named one of the 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award, which recognizes the best lineman in college football. Despite missing the first half of the game against Minnesota due to a targeting penalty, Newton has been a standout player for Illinois this season. He leads the team in tackles for loss and sacks and is expected to earn All-Big Ten honors again this year. Newton is also projected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Overall, Feagin's impressive performance as a freshman, the potential return of key players, and Newton's recognition as a top lineman all contribute to the excitement surrounding Illinois football. The team is determined to secure bowl eligibility and make a strong finish to the season.