Miles Osei was a quarterback at Prospect High School and was recruited to play that position at Illinois. Possessor of a strong arm, quick feet and good intelligence, he fits the criteria necessary for a multiple spread attack.
However, the Illini were short on running backs this spring and struggled finding receiver speed. So team player Osei became especially valuable as he took turns at all three positions.
"I'm trying to play different positions. Wherever the team needs me is where I'm going right now. Running back, quarterback or maybe a little bit at slot. It's a mix of all three so far."
He still wants to be a quarterback, but he wants playing time even more.
"I'm not going to be hardheaded about the situation. I told the coaches I just want to play. I want to get on the field, make plays for our team and help our team win. So whatever position that is, that's the position I want to play."
Some who have coached in the Mid-America Conference say Osei could start at quarterback for those teams. He originally committed to Northern Illinois but switched when Illinois came calling. He has no regrets.
"There's some really good MAC-level quarterbacks out there, so it's hard to say if things would've happened differently if I'd gone to a MAC school. You never know. I'm real happy here, and I'm glad to be in the situation I'm in."
What meeting room did he frequent this spring?
"I go to the quarterbacks; I'm a quarterback first. And then if I have to learn a position, it's going to be in the quarterback room."
Osei believes learning other positions helps him become a better quarterback.
"I think it's easier to learn offense when you have more positions. As a quarterback, you need to know what everyone else is doing already. But when you actually play a position, you have to live it. It definitely helps out a lot though."
The 5'-11", 190 pound lefty was drafted for the Spring Game as a running back. He's uncertain whether he will be needed there this fall.
"I'm not real sure. Obviously, they're going to try out the new freshmen. I heard there's some good running backs coming in. They'll try to see how they play."
Regardless of his primary position, Osei likes the new spread offense and feels it is a good fit for the team.
"I think so. There's a lot of options, a lot of different ways out of blitzes, ways you can run certain plays, different variations. So I think it's definitely a positive."
Of course, that requires the offensive players to see what is happening and make quick decisions to exploit defensive tendencies.
"That's right, and I think we've got those guys. I think we've done a real good job of picking up the offense so far and making adjustments. We need to keep going, but I think we've been doing a good job."
He is also pleased with the makeup of the new Illini coaching staff.
"I think it's been good. I think our team has transitioned well. These coaches are great, real honest. They are players' coaches, I would say. They really break down things and demand a lot.
"We are able to talk to them and have a good conversation with them. I know I've transitioned well, and I'm definitely looking forward to keep on working with them."
Osei has great respect for quarterback coach Chris Beatty.
"Great guy. He's real honest, which I love about him. If something's going on, he'll let you know if you're doing right, if you're doing bad. He's real calm. He doesn't yell or anything, but he definitely demands a lot. He's a real respectable guy. I think all the quarterbacks like him. I think our whole offense really likes him too."
Former Illini quarterback coach Jeff Brohm played the position in the pros, but Osei believes Beatty is just as good at teaching the position.
"Yeah, I think he's more than capable. That doesn't hinder him at all. He's coached great running backs, great quarterbacks, great receivers. That's not a question, and I don't think it ever will be."
He also provides thoughts on running back coach Tim Salem.
"He's a good guy. He also demands a lot. He wants things to be perfect. But he's definitely fun to play under."
The UI offense has the major task of learning a brand new system with new terminology, which takes time. Osei likes how the offense progressed throughout the spring.
"I think it's coming along great. As an offense, we've got the basics down. We're picking up the offense real well. I know I have. Just the little things, like picking out the blitzes. But overall, I think we've done a good job."
The Illini defense should be the team's strength this fall, and Osei has found their daily challenge beneficial for the offense.
"Oh yeah, but that's what we want. We want to go against the best, and our defense is one of the best. I think we are getting better playing against them, and they're getting better against us also."
Osei also plays on special teams. So whether #16 is found leading the team from the quarterback spot or toiling elsewhere, he figures to see the field early and often this fall.