When a player departs the Illinois football team, the depth chart takes a hit regardless of where they are on it.
On Saturday, the Illini quarterback situation got a little shake-up. Samari Collier, one of the holdovers from the Lovie Smith regime, decided to pursue another route for his college career and enter the transfer portal.
This transfer decision doesn’t come as much of a surprise because I believe it would be at least three years before Collier even got a chance at the starting job. That is too long to wait with a player of his talent.
But with Collier now gone, the Illini quarterback depth chart will need a bit of an adjustment.
Here is the Illinois football quarterback depth chart after the Samari Collier transfer.
Starter: Tommy DeVito
I know it is out there that there is a quarterback battle to see who starts game one against Wyoming this year. But, honestly, I don’t think DeVito comes to Illinois if he wasn’t somewhat guaranteed to get the starting job.
DeVito has a ton of talent but has dealt with injuries. That is why he isn’t at Syracuse anymore. His injuries knocked him down the depth chart, and then he bolted the program.
When DeVito was healthy, he was a sensational quarterback. In 2019, he threw for 2,360 yards, 19 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He also had a 63.2% completion rate that year. That is what I am hoping for this season from DeVito. If we can get that out of him, Illinois will win at least seven games.
Second String: Artur Sitkowski
If you are an Illinois fan, you know that having a solid backup is important. It seems like every year our starter gets hurt. That is why I like what we have as a primary backup in Artur Sitkowski.
Sitkowski is supposedly in competition with DeVito for the starting job, but I firmly believe he will end up as the primary backup. Illinois needs Sitkowski as a good insurance policy, though. He is a talented quarterback.
Third String: Ryan Johnson
I believe Ryan Johnson will take over the third-string duties for the 2022 campaign. He is a redshirt senior this year, so having that experience is invaluable. I don’t think Illinois will need their third-string quarterback much this season, but it is nice to have him in the holster ready to go.
The Future: Donovan Leary
Every ounce of my wants to put Donovan Leary as the third-string quarterback, but I think he ends up taking a redshirt this season. This would be the smartest route.
The future of Illinois football goes through Leary, though. He is a talented quarterback who has a solid chance to be second-string next season. I believe he will then take over the starting job in 2024.