Illinois on Friday extended a scholarship to a Chicago Public League quarterback who may remind Illini fans of the Illini's last Chicago Public League quarterback.
Eric Solorio Academy (Ill.) sophomore Quincy Patterson certainly shares some traits with former Illini great Juice Williams.
"He's a clone," said former Illini wide receiver Chris James, who played with Williams at Illinois from 2006-09 and coaches Patterson on the HEROH 7-on-7 team. "Just a little taller."
The 6-foot-3, 219-pound sophomore has a dangerous, strong arm, but he is even more dangerous with his feet. He is a power runner who can run through opponents but also has the speed to run by defenses (he ran a 4.70 40-yard dash at The Opening Regional in Addison, Ill., last weekend).
Ron Zook landed Williams in 2006, his second recruiting class at Illinois. Lovie Smith now hopes to land Patterson in his second recruiting class. Patterson is the first 2018 quarterback to receive an Illini offer.
Patterson told IlliniInquirer.com that his high school coach informed him of the offer -- his second (New Mexico was the first) -- during school on Friday.
"I kind of just said, 'OK,' and went back to class," Patterson said. "Then I was sitting in class and it kind of sunk in and hit me."
It's very early in Patterson's recruitment, but he certainly fits what the Illini and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee wants in their future quarterbacks: size, speed, athleticism and a strong arm. Patterson also brings intangibles, including toughness and leadership. He's started for Solorio as a freshman and sophomore.
Patterson is a bit raw -- he is just wrapping up his sophomore year of high school, after all -- especially as a passer because Solorio runs a run-heavy, read-option offense. But Patterson is getting as many passing reps as possible, participating in several camps (including The Opening and The Top Gun Showcase) and seven-on-seven tournaments.
Patterson also said he plans on participating in several college camps this summer, including Iowa, Iowa State, Northwestern, Missouri, Purdue, Penn State and North Carolina. He's already visited the Illinois campus twice.
Williams sparked a brief resurgence of Illinois football under Zook. Now, Illinois hopes that another Chicago Public League quarterback will eventually decide to help lead a longer-term Illini revival under Lovie.