The Next Question Is...

While the starting quarterback battle is catching all the headlines... the next logical question is: who's going to catch the passes in 2014?

CHAMPAIGN - It's the question sure to dominant spring practice and the offseason.

Who will start at quarterback for Illinois in 2014? Wes Lunt, Reilly O'Toole and Aaron Bailey will settle the discussion.

And when a starter is eventually named, another question will arise.

Regardless of who is throwing, who will be on the receiving end of those passes?

The versatile sophomore Bailey couldn't answer when asked the question earlier this week.

"There's too many for me to say," he said. "We're going to use a lot of receivers this year."

Without a proven go-to guy, everybody appears to be on equal footing.

The wide receiver position will be overhauled after losing top targets Steve Hull, Miles Osei, Spencer Harris and Ryan Lankford, all of whom exhausted eligibility.

That leaves Martize Barr (26 receptions), Justin Hardee (11), Devin Church (two) and Dionte Taylor (one) as the only wideouts on the roster with a catch last season.

With such little experience to rely on, the coaching staff opted for the junior college route, bringing in Geronimo Allison and Tyrin Stone-Davis. The pair of 6-foot-3 pass-catchers enrolled in mid-January and have already caught passes from the group of quarterbacks competing to start.

Bailey was somewhat surprised by the initial impressions.

"They run really crisp routes, honestly," he said of Allison and Stone-Davis. "Their routes are very smooth. There's just some little things they have to work on. They're real good. They've got great hands. They catch the ball with their hands and use their eyes."

O'Toole spoke of the importance of the junior college guys panning out.

"They're here for a reason, obviously, and I hope they play," he said. "Hopefully they get everything with the playbook and everything down pretty well. I think I'll be able to help out with that, as well as the other guys."

Add redshirt freshman Marchie Murdock and true freshmen Mike Dudek (already on campus) and Malik Turner to the mix. They'll have as much opportunity as anybody else.

With so many options and so much unknown, both O'Toole and Bailey expressed excitement regarding how the position shakes over the course of the next eight months.

"We're just looking for a leader to emerge at that group," O'Toole said. "We're just excited. We've got some good athletes. We're just waiting for somebody to emerge and take everybody under their wing."

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