After spending a year at Oklahoma State where he was named the starter as a true freshman, Wes Lunt decided to transfer closer to home, and in the end he selected his home-state team.
But up until Monday morning, Lunt had everyone guessing when it came to his pick.
"Yeah it feels great," Lunt said. "I'm excited to get going after all of the paperwork is done. Nobody really knew except me where I was going. I kept it pretty quiet. It was a decision I made on my own. I took my time. People were asking me like crazy."
Once he had made his decision, Lunt broke the news to the staff at both Louisville, his other finalist, and Illinois.
"I just called Coach Beckman yesterday morning and followed up and called Louisville later," he said. "It was tough for me to make the Louisville call. They were so good to me throughout the entire process."
But Beckman was excited, and for good reason. And the enthusiasm that Beckman showed when he learned of Lunt's decision reflected right back on Lunt.
"Coach Beckman was pretty animated. That's how he is," he said. "He's a passionate guy and it made me even more excited when I heard his reaction."
Louisville has a successful football program, no doubt, but Illinois as a whole had more of what Lunt was looking for, and in the end, that drew him in.
"Illinois was kind of the whole package for me," Lunt said. "It has great academics and is close to home. There's a lot of tradition in the program. It wasn't any one thing that sold me. It was a lot of the little things that sold me. Talking to Coach Beckman and Coach Cubit sold me in the end."
He continued, "I would have to say one thing that stood out was the academics. I didn't realize how prestigious the business school was. Having a degree from Illinois can take me places even after football."
During his visits, Lunt was able to walk back out on a field on which he had won two state titles with his Rochester team in high school. The experience was a bit surreal to him.
"It was pretty cool," he said. "It brought back memories and good times. You just picture yourself out there in the future so it was exciting."
Another draw to Illinois for Lunt was a prior relationship with Coach Bill Cubit from his time at Western Michigan.
"It was nice," he said. "I talked to Coach Cubit when he was at Western Michigan. I talked mostly with his son but I was familiar with him. I really got to know Coach Cubit and I got to see what he's bringing to Illinois."
Lunt comes into Illinois with some valuable experience from his time at Oklahoma State. As previously mentioned, he was named the starter as a true freshman and started a handful of games before suffering an injury.
"The biggest thing I learned was how to be a college student athlete and how to separate football and school work," he said. "Getting used to the workouts and the practices on a daily basis taught me a lot. I learned what it takes to be successful at the next level."
Lunt sees both positives and negatives in having to sit out a year due to the transfer. But he knows that in the end it will make him a better player and better leader for his team.
"It's a little bittersweet because I want to play," Lunt said, "but realistically I want to learn the offense and build relationships with the team before I hit the field. It's nice to have the year to get stronger and learn the offense better. I'll still be progressing."
Someone Lunt is expected to be in a heated competition with at his position is incoming freshman quarterback Aaron Bailey of Bolingbrook. Another Illinois high school player who won a state title at Memorial Stadium comes in with several accolades and will definitely challenge Lunt to rise to the occasion.
"I've only heard good things about Aaron as a person and a player," he said. "I can't wait to meet him and start a relationship with him. He's a dual threat that's very fast and very athletic. I'm excited to compete and see where it goes."
Lunt, who will most likely enroll in July, will spend time between now and then working out and keeping himself in shape. Even though he already possesses a vast set of skills, he knows he needs to get better with plenty of challenges ahead of him, which includes learning a new offense.
"I really just want to become a complete quarterback and learn the offense," he said. "The relationships I'll develop are important, and really I just feel like I want to get better in every area."
Lunt's transfer to Illinois has already created a lot of buzz around the program during what's been a tough stretch of recruiting, especially in-state. Lunt isn't sure what impact he'll have with potential recruits, but he hopes it helps surround him with players who want to win.
"I don't know if me coming will attract more offensive talent or not, but I hope it does," he said. "As a quarterback you're only as good as the people around you. So I'm hoping we can use it as a recruiting tool."
Though it will be a little over a year from now, Lunt is already looking forward to the opportunity he'll get to once again pad up on Saturdays and play the game he loves in front of the people he loves.
"I'm ready to get back and play again," he said. "I'm excited to play in front of my friends and family. That was a big factor for me too."