Illinois coach Tim Beckman has made no secret of his team's need for more playmakers at the receiver spot. And now one of the team's few proven players there has been suspended.
Beckman announced Monday that he has suspended junior Darius Millines for a violation of team policy. Beckman didn't offer any further details but said that Millines' status would be re-evaluated in May.
Millines finished second on the team last year with 319 receiving yards on 32 catches. Those are modest stats, but the Illini's leader in receiving yards in 2012 was Ryan Lankford with just 469, while running back Donovonn Young had the most receptions with 38.
Millines wasn't going to be a big part of spring practice for Illinois, anyway, as he was recovering from a shoulder injury that would have limited his practice work. But the opportunity to run some routes and learn new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit's system on the field was a valuable one for him as he enters his final season. Beckman said Millines will spend his time instead rehabbing and working with tutors.
It doesn't sound as if Millines' transgression was serious enough to get him booted off the team, assuming he can get his problems solved in the next couple of months. So he could still be back and ready to go this fall. Beckman also said Monday that Miles Osei, who served as a backup QB/jack of all trades last season, is working out exclusively at receiver. Senior Steve Hull has also moved from safety to receiver, and the Illini are hoping junior college import Martize Barr can provide some immediate help.
So the Millines news might not prove to be a huge problem. But the state of the Illinois receiving corps right now is such that any setback is magnified.