Illinois Football: A look at the current Illini quarterback situation

Whether the next Illinois football season begins in January or next fall, they will be entering the upcoming campaign with a deep and talented quarterback room.

Lovie Smith has plenty of options at quarterback for the upcoming season with six passers currently on the Fighting Illini roster: SR Brandon Peters, Redshirt SO Matt Robinson, Redshirt SO Coran Taylor, Redshirt FR Isaiah Williams, FR Deuce Spann, and FR walk-on Josh Beetham.

Here is how the deep quarterback situation will look for the Fighting Illini in their upcoming season:

Starter (QB 1): SR QB Brandon Peters

The former Michigan Wolverine senior quarterback will be the undoubted starter next season.

During the 2019 campaign, Peters started all but two games, which were missed due to injury.  The Illini quarterback finished the season with a 55-percent completion percentage, 1,884 yards, 18 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a 128.6 quarterback rating.

Peters led the Illini to six wins as a starter, including a 4 touchdown performance at UCONN.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Avon, IN native was just named to the Reese’s Top-250 seniors list Thursday.  Peters has also received much more preseason recognition, being named to the Maxwell Award watch list, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list, and being ranked among the top-four returning QBs with the highest passing grade when scrambling.

Primary backup (QB 2): Redshirt FR Isaiah Williams vs Redshirt SO Matt Robinson

You can absolutely expect a battle for the primary backup quarterback position.  2019 four-star recruit Isaiah Williams, who redshirted last season, will look to surpass sophomore Matt Robinson for the No. 2 quarterback spot.

Robinson was the primary backup for Peters during the 2019 season.  The then-redshirt freshman wasn’t too shabby when filling in for Peters, who suffered a few injuries last season.  Robinson finished the 2019 campaign with a superb completion percentage of 54.5-percent, an impressive quarterback rating of 110.6, 1 TD, and 0 picks.

These numbers include a 16-of-25, 192 yard, 1 touchdown, 0 interception performance when starting vs. Michigan.  Robinson finished the game with a 141.7 quarterback rating in that game.

The redshirt freshman Williams didn’t get the same opportunities as Robinson last season.  With three very limited appearances, Williams finished the season completing 3-of-10 attempts, 38 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception.  The then-freshman quarterback also rushed for 16 yards on 9 attempts.

Williams didn’t play nearly to his potential, given that he was a four-star recruit who led his team to a state championship victory during his senior year of high school.  Williams has loads of talent with a strong, accurate, arm and immense speed.

Additional depth: Redshirt SO Coran Taylor, FR Deuce Spann, FR Josh Beetham

There is no question Peoria native Coran Taylor is a talented quarterback with his strong arm and mobility.  However, Robinson and Williams have the upper-hand over Taylor in terms of talent.

That being said, don’t be surprised if Taylor sees some playing time next season. Though, it may be a very insignificant amount of minutes.

You can expect both of the young freshman quarterbacks to take a redshirt this upcoming season.

Next: Illini recruiting wish list for the class of 2021

The upcoming Big Ten season may be in question, but one thing is certain; there will be plenty of competition in Lovie Smith’s quarterback room.

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