Position Probe: Quarterback

An in-depth take, position by position, as the Illini transition from spring drills to summer workouts.

Death, taxes and the feeling around a football team driven by the quarterback spot.

It's a time-tested deal — the quarterback position means so much to a football team/program, no matter the level of play.

And props to Illinois for using this offseason's quarterback competition to it's advantage. And I'm not just talking about what went on between the lines.

Illinois made Wes Lunt, Reilly O'Toole and Aaron Bailey available to the media weeks before spring began. They were the only players available that early. A mini-series of videos called The Illinois QB (pretty straightforward name, but the production is excellent. I highly suggest it) documented the battle as it played out through April.

All the while, the first questions from the media were always about naming a starter, tracking how each fared day to day, assembling some sort of pecking order, etc. Did all of that attention get tiresome for the players and coaches? Probably.

But it was exactly the kind of conversation the Illini needed to be involved with. I'm not calling it a PR conspiracy, but it was a deft move to keep the QB talk always at the forefront instead of, say, any aspect of the defense.

It's not that other areas of the team weren't tapped into. It's just that quarterback, quarterback, quarterback dominated everything.

And since Tim Beckman and Bill Cubit didn't name a starter at the conclusion of spring drills, the convo should continue on through the summer and fall.

Good move. Wes Lunt is going to be the guy. He's got the prototypical build and a cannon for an arm. There's not a throw he can't make, not a route Cubit can't call up at any given moment.

Put simply, Lunt alone could be worth the price of admission. A good quarterback is hard to find. A great one? The Illini might have one on their hands.

So what does that mean for the other two, specifically Bailey? He's too explosive not to be involved in some capacity, but juggling quarterbacks requires good judgement and secure, selfless signal callers. Cubit has probably been involved in every type of scenario imaginable, so put your trust in him. He'll find the balance. Lunt and Bailey should find the end zone, too.


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