Illinois football in top 8 for a 4-star Florida quarterback

The quarterback position has been solid under Bret Bielema, and it looks like the Illinois football team will continue to be in the hunt for top passers
Nebraska v Illinois
Nebraska v Illinois / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Illinois football is in the mix for a big-time 2026 quarterback from the Sunshine State.

For the first time in a long time, I am comfortable with the Illini quarterback room. This isn’t the Lovie Smith era when we had to endure the likes of Jeff George Jr. starting. Illinois has some quality passers behind center.

That trend will hopefully continue in the future. On Thursday, Hayes Fawcett of reported that Illinois was in the mix for talented quarterback, Dereon Coleman. Coleman ended up cutting his list down to just eight teams, and the eight programs to remain alive for his commitment included UCF, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Nebraska, TCU, Arkansas, and Illinois.

This would be a great addition to any of the eight programs. Coleman is a 6-foot-1, 165-pound quarterback from Jones High School in Florida. He is rated as a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 300 player in the class of 2026. He is also the No. 21 quarterback in the country and the No. 54 player coming out of the state of Florida.

According to 247Sports, Coleman has taken unofficial visits to Oklahoma, UCF, and Florida thus far.

Illinois football has had a focus on building out the quarterback room in the Bret Bielema era

This program is in a much better place than it was just six years ago. Bret Bielema took over the Illini and started to build out the quarterback room.

Bielema’s first order of business was getting a solid transfer portal player to help stabilize the position. Tommy DeVito was the right option. We then brought in Luke Altmyer, who will be the starter for the next couple of seasons. Bielema also snagged John Paddock, who served as an unbelievable replacement for Altmyer last season.

When it comes to young quarterback talent, there has been at least one quarterback in each of the recruiting classes as well. Donovan Leary is a solid backup from the class of 2022. I think Cal Swanson has a ton of potential from the class of 2023. And Trey Petty, the Mississippi Mr. Football in class 7A, is coming in from the class of 2024.

Bielema has Illinois loaded at quarterback, and adding someone like Coleman would continue this trend into the future. This is a huge top eight to make, and I expect the Orange and Blue to be in the mix at the end.

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