Last season, the Illinois Fighting Illini offense performed much better under the newly adopted system of offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. The Illini threw for over 3,000 yards in 2013 and where led by senior Nathan Scheelhaase. However, Scheelhaase is gone, and the Fighting Illini are looking for a new starter for this upcoming season.
There is a lot of time before game one, but also enough information to make some early projections on the depth chart for the 2014-15 Illini Quarterbacks.
1. Wes Lunt, 6’5″, 215 lbs., Sophomore
Despite having an “open quarterback battle” this offseason, the top spot goes to Wes Lunt. Lunt generated so much hype around the Illinois football community once he decided to transfer to the Orange & Blue, and it is now his time to take the keys to the Illinois offense. There’s a pretty good chance he could throw for at least 3,500 yards in the Bill Cubit system.
2. Aaron Bailey, 6’2″, 220 lbs., Sophomore
With Lunt in the #1 spot, what does that mean for the back-up role? That spot goes to Illinois’ other sophomore QB Aaron Bailey. Tim Beckman and Bill Cubit decided not to redshirt Bailey in 2013 because Cubit felt as though the newly acquired Illini could help the team win right away. Bailey only attempted five passes last season, but ran the ball for 83 yards on 20 carries. Illini fans can expect to see the same from Aaron Bailey in 2014 as Cubit will most likely use a sprinkling of two quarterbacks.
3. Reilly O’Toole, 6’4″, 220 lbs., Senior
O’Toole has been the “starter in waiting” for Illinois for sometime now. As a sophomore in 2012, O’Toole played quite a bit for the often injured Scheelhaase. However, he only saw the field during five games last season. It’s pretty safe to say the Reilly O’Toole might not see the field much in 2014. The only way he will see playing time is via injuries or if Illinois gets up big during some of their non-conference games.
4. Man Berg, 6’2″, 200 lbs., redshirt Freshman
Berg was a walk-on for the Fighting Illini in the summer of 2013 and redshirted all of last season. He came from California and played for the De La Salle Spartans in high school. During his senior season of high school, De La Salle went 15-0 and won the Open Division State Championship. It would be a total shocker to see Berg hit the field for the Illini this upcoming season.
5. Chayce Crouch, 6’4″, 225 lbs., Freshman
Crouch was an early enrollee for Illinois from the 2014 recruiting class. He was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. He threw for over 4,700 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushed for over 1,000 yards and 24 touchdowns while posting a 25-6 career record as a starter at Newark Catholic High School. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Crouch redshirt due to the abundance of QBs on the Illini roster. However, Beckman and Cubit haven’t been known for redshirting just because a player is a freshman.