The 90 Illini #53: Kyron Cumby
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Illini wide receivers in 2020 are the most difficult position in the last 10 years to predict. There, I said it. I blame the injuries last season. By the Northwestern game, we were down to three healthy wide receivers: Casey Washington, Donny Navarro, and Caleb Reams. Kyron Cumby could have possibly played - at least I think he could have, though I suppose there's always the chance he was injured, too - but Cumby had already played in four games and they wanted to keep his redshirt. They used Daniel Barker as the fourth receiver and played the NW game without any backups (plus Cumby was a 5'-8" true freshman trying to add strength so it's possible they might not have been able to use him until he learns to block and such).
Maybe I should just make a list of why WR is so confusing.
- Reams/Navarro/Washington plus 9 injured receivers at the end of the season. Most believe that Navarro and Washington will get a ton of snaps this season, but do we really know if they were that high up in the pecking order or if they were getting all those snaps simply because everyone else was injured?
- Smalling was going to return as a fourth-year starter but now he's gone.
- Freshman Dalevon Campbell played in the first five games but then missed the rest of the year with an injury. Generally, "didn't redshirt" means "will play a lot as a sophomore" but we just don't know.
- They added an unknown as a 5th-year transfer - Desmond Dan from New Mexico State. Is he the #2 receiver type or the #7 receiver type?
- Trevon Sidney was more hyped than Bhebhe coming in but only played 4.5 games before an injury ended his season. I want to say he's the #2 receiver but he might be #7.
- Does all of that mean James Frenchie plays right away? Is Brian Hightower going to get a waiver? Khmari Thompson? Edwin Carter needed 2 years to rehab the knee injury - is he fully recovered? Carlos Sandy missed the entire regular season with an injury but returned for the Redbox Bowl and had four catches - is he in the mix?
Complete unknowns. Hey, just like this season.
53. Kyron Cumby
Uniform number: 20
Year in school: Redshirt freshman (4 years to play 4)
Height: 5'-8" -- Weight: 180 lbs.
Hometown: Plano, Texas
High School: Plano HS
Five best offers: Texas Tech, Colorado, Washington State, Iowa State, BYU
Tom Cruise rating:
2019 statistics: Played in 4 games - 2 catches for 31 yards and two punt returns - and then sat the rest of the season so he'd avoid burning a year of eligibility.
This one is all about speed. Size? Did I mention he was fast?
When I heard he was visiting (as a recruit) I went to look up info on him and found this screengrab from an interview his junior year of high school. They say first impressions are everything, and my impression was "he looks like he's 12". This is why your parents told you to never judge a book by its cover.
Then I studied his track numbers and saw that he ran a 10.28 in the 100m at a high school track meet. I'm pretty sure 10.28 is the fastest 100m time I can remember for any Illini recruit. So yes, he's short. But he's ridiculously fast.
Will that translates to yards gained on the football field?
In his Zoom call with the media today Rod Smith said the phrase "get the ball in space" about 4-5 times. That's a big part of his offense. Find where there might be space on the field, get the ball to his guys in those zones, and let them operate. Cumby would be one of those guys. He's never going to out-muscle a DB for a jump ball. But he can run past you, so if Rod can get him the ball in space (like the 30-yard play in the Akron game), he can showcase that speed.
The issue: where does he fit in the rotation this year. If we look at the receivers in three categories - big receivers out-muscling you for jump balls, small slot receivers running underneath stuff, and somewhere-in-the-middle receivers running precise routes (flanker kind of stuff), then I think there are two main guys slotted for each role:
Large: Josh Imatrobhebhe, Dalevon Campbell
Medium: Casey Washington, Desmond Dan
Small: Donny Navarro, Trevon Sidney
That would be my guess, right now, for the six main receivers. If Hightower or Thompson get a waiver, that changes things. Maybe Dan and Campbell aren't ready for Big Ten football but Carter and Sandy are. There are a ton of variables.
But that's where I have it for now. Which is why I have Cumby at #53 with six more receivers to rank.