A couple weeks ago, Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood QB Eli Peters was sitting in classes at his high school. But in just a few days, he will be sitting in a different classroom as he begins his coursework and football career at Illinois.
"I've been looking forward to this day since I was 10 years old," Peters said. "I start classes on Tuesday."
It's always valuable for a quarterback to enroll early for several reasons, including an advance opportunity to get familiar with the playbook and establish necessary relationships that will allow him to be a leader on the offense someday. But Peters also said he hopes to glean as much knowledge as he can from incumbent starting senior quarterback Wes Lunt.
"One of the main reasons I came early is to get the playbook in my hands as early as possible. That's the most important thing," he said. "But I also have an opportunity to learn from an experienced senior in Wes Lunt. Along with those reasons, I also get to begin working toward my degree as early as possible. It's a win-win situation."
As a freshman, Peters does have some reservations and uncertainties about what college will bring and how well he'll adjust. But he's prepared to face the challenge head-on and soak up as much knowledge as he can once he arrives.
"Well of course I'll see certain things in defenses that I haven't seen at the high school level, but I'm confident that I'll be up to par through the guidance of Wes (Lunt) and Coach Ryan Cubit," he said. "The speed of the game increases, but that's also something I feel I can get adjusted to pretty quickly."
With Peters and JUCO transfer Ahmari Hayes being the only two early enrollees, Peters will actually be rooming with a couple of last year's freshmen in WR Sam Mays and LB Julian Jones, who has returned to campus after dealing with his legal matter in Georgia.
Peters has stayed in close contacts with his fellow commits throughout the recruiting process and can't wait for them to join him in Champaign.
"We all talk to each other equally," he said. "We are already a family and we are working to get some more people on board!"