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Can Illinois Football Hop Off the Transfer QB Carousel?



Illinois Football names 2023 QB1
Oct 22, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Luke Altmyer (7) warms up on a time out again the LSU Tigers during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Can Illinois Football Hop Off the Transfer QB Carousel?

Illinois Football has found stability. After a rough decade, Josh Whitman seems to have made the right hire for Illinois football. Bret Bielema has a history of winning and has proven himself to be a great CEO for a program needing robust leadership. Bielema has adapted well to the transfer portal world and NIL. He has managed to keep all of his star players on his roster. All of Illinois Football’s attrition to the transfer portal seems to be mutual and with players buried on the depth chart.

Bielema also has proven himself in the recruiting world. Notably, he was heavily involved with closing the deal on their QB of 2024 and always seems to be very involved in all recruitments. Illinois Football seems to have a new quarterback every year. Including this coming year, Illinois has had 6 different starting quarterbacks since 2016. All of these players were transfers. However, that trend seems to be at an end.

The last stop on the transfer QB carousel.

Illinois landed Ole-Miss transfer, Luke Altmyer this off-season. Altmyer has three years of eligibility left. Though he may not use all of this, this is a great sign for Illinois. Additionally, Illinois has a young QB room. Outside of walk-on transfer, John Paddock, Illinois has Donovan Leary and Cal Swanson as their prep quarterbacks. Adding Trey Petty to that next year leaves Leary, who will be a red-shirt sophomore at the helm behind Altmyer.

After Altmyer plays two years of football, it should be clear who the next starting QB will be amongst Leary, Petty and Swanson. Having three legitimate options at the QB is the way that Illinois can have some continuity and a sell at quarterback. As with basketball, having a QB that is familiar with the program and team will lead to a higher chance of success.

The Transfer portal will still be there.

Make no mistake, the transfer portal will benefit Illinois. If the three aforementioned prep quarterbacks do not work out, Illinois can easily find a quarterback in the transfer portal to be a stop gap for a year or two. Additionally, they may also find a young QB in the portal to develop behind Altmyer so that they will have an older option at the helm. With the way Tommy Devito played, Illinois has a strong sell to transfer QB’s.

Regardless, Illinois football seems to have found stability in all facets. Bielema has been an outstanding CEO for a program that needs experienced and competent leadership. Finding a credible, winning coach that really cares about his job has been a breath of fresh air.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.