The Illinois football offense lost some important pieces from the eight-win team of 2022.
Losing a running back like Chase Brown is hard to replace. He helped pace the Illini offense and was one of the best running backs of recent memory. I will also miss quarterback Tommy DeVito and some of the talented offensive linemen who departed the program.
But with departures comes new faces. Bret Bielema reloaded the positions of need, and Illinois looks to be well-positioned to have another solid year on the field. Predicting who will be starting at what position is the big question.
Here is the projected 2023 Illinois football depth chart – offense
- Starter: Luke Altmyer
While the Illinois football coaching staff hasn’t officially announced who the starting quarterback is going to be entering the 2023 campaign, I am pretty confident in saying that Luke Altmyer is going to get the job. I don’t think he would have transferred into the Illinois program if there wasn’t some type of assurance that he was going to start.
Altmyer was a highly-decorated quarterback coming out of high school. He was a four-star recruit who was ranked as the No. 196 player in the class of 2021. In two seasons at Ole Miss, Altmyer couldn’t get off the ground, so he decided to find a new home in Champaign. Bret Bielema has done interviews this offseason and has talked about the accuracy of Altmyer. I fully expect him to start as long as he is healthy. Hopefully, we have at least two solid years of Altmyer flinging the rock around.
- 2nd String: John Paddock
This offseason didn’t just bring a great transfer in Altmyer. Illinois was also able to secure the transfer commitment of quarterback John Paddock. He suited up for Ball State for the past four seasons, and now he is trying to make his name at the power-five level. Paddock threw for 2,719 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions in 2022 with the Cardinals. He has a ton of talent, and with it being his final year in college, I think Paddock will get the second-string quarterback job.
- 3rd String: Donovan Leary
In the third string, I have Donovan Leary. He came into the program in 2022 and took a redshirt. This kid played well in high school, and he has the potential to be a really good quarterback. I think Leary learning behind a few talented passers will be good for his game.
- 4th String: Cal Swanson
Cal Swanson won’t see action in 2023. He was a great get for Illinois, as Swanson was a three-star recruit who was ranked as the No. 855 player in the class of 2023. He committed to Illinois in June 2022 and stuck with his commitment throughout. Swanson will take a redshirt this season, but look for him to push for the starting job in the future.