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Illinois Football: Inside the Illini’s rebuilt quarterback room



Illinois Football Makes Top 5 for In-State DB

Illinois football has improved the quarterback room again.

When head coach Bret Bielema took over for departed head coach  Lovie Smith, the quarterback room was far from standard. Brandon Peters and Art Sitkowski were cast-offs from programs (Michigan and Rutgers) looking to upgrade their quarterback rooms. Both performed admirably, but quarterback play had to improve to compete in the Big Ten. Last season was proof that improved quarterback play was crucial for Illinois. Syracuse transfer Tommy Devito played well, throwing for over 2600 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Improvement at quarterback kept defenses honest and allowed Chase Brown to have one of the best single seasons in Illinois history. This season, the quarterback room is as good as it has been in a long time. Bielema and his offensive staff have stacked their room for now and the future.

Luke Altmyer

There is a distinct possibility that Mississippi head coach Lane Kiffin could look back on letting Altmyer transfer with regret. The Starkville native is a strong-armed quarterback who can make every throw in the playbook. Altmyer flashed in limited action while at Mississippi, but Lunney has much to work with. Altmyer has an elite-level skill set and is a great athlete. Lunney, Bielema, and the Illini coaching staff must be excited about his ability to throw the ball down the field. Considering the Illini did not have a receiver average over 15 yards per reception, Altmyer could create some explosive plays in the passing game.

John Paddock

The Ball State transfer gives the Illini a solid number two option at quarterback. Paddock is a veteran who got an opportunity to play after waiting his turn. He put up solid numbers in Muncie, throwing for 2719 yards and 18 touchdowns. Paddock is a reliable option if Altmyer gets hurt during the season. The backup quarterback role is not guaranteed because the next quarterback on this list will make a play for QB2.

Donovan Leary

If the last name sounds familiar, Donovan Leary is the younger brother of former North Carolina State and current Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary. After spending last season as 4th on the depth chart, Leary has every opportunity to be QB2 behind Altmyer, ahead of John Paddock. Leary earned reps with the first and second-team offense during the spring and looks to keep that momentum going into summer and fall camp.

Trey Petty

Illinois Football seemed to have set themselves up for the future, adding three-star quarterback Trey Petty to its 2024 recruiting class. The Starkville High School product can get it done with his arm and legs. Petty will give the quarterback room some skill set diversity when he arrives next season. Signing Petty creates competition next year and sets the Illini up for at least the next five years.

Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.