Illini first to offer Peoria QB Coran Taylor

Illini extend scholarship offer to 2018 Peoria (Ill.) quarterback Coran Taylor, who discusses the offer and his recruitment with Illini Inquirer

Coran Taylor had just finished taking an algebra test when he was called to go to the athletic director's office. The math didn't add up for the Peoria (Ill.) quarterback.

"It took me by surprise, actually," Taylor said. "I'm just thinking it's another day, that it's another coach who's there for Kendrick (Green) and just wanted to see me. I got there and Coach Thornton said, 'Do you want to know the good news now or do you want me to surprise you?' I said, 'Just tell me now.' So he called up Coach (Luke) Butkus back up on the phone, and Coach Butkus gave Coach (Lovie) Smith said he wanted to offer me a full scholarship to the University of Illinois.

"It was pretty special. Coach Smith said they need a guy like me to run the offense and all that. It was nice excitement and out of the blue. It's crazy. I didn't expect it at all."

The Big Ten offer from the in-state flagship is the first scholarship offer for Taylor, who had a monster junior season in leading Peoria to a Class 5A state championship victory.

"I mean it's big," Taylor said. "It just opened the floodgates for more schools to kind of see and take a look at me. It's special because I'm an Illinois kid. It's kind of special that they're my first offer."

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound quarterback led Peoria to a historic season. The Lions were the first team in IHSA history to score more than 800 points (807), averaging 57.6 per game. Taylor ran for 1,671 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns and passed for 1,542 yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. Taylor also is receiving interest from Iowa, Northwestern and Illinois State. But Illinois has made a huge initial impression.

"Just everything (sticks out)," Taylor said. "The facilities, the coaches, the people there, the environment. It's just all nice."

Illinois also is recruiting Taylor's teammate, 2017 lineman Kendrick Green. Taylor said he's learned from watching Green go through the process.

"I know it's stressful, I know that," Taylor said. "It takes time to make the right decision, so I know it's going to take time. Kendrick, you can't really read Kendrick. He just says he's going to make his decision soon. All of them got the qualities he likes, so it's a really hard decision because he likes the schools so much."

Taylor wants to take a visit to Champaign soon but already is familiar with the campus. He visited with his Peoria teammates to meet the staff last spring. Then he shined on the field last month in the state championship game, when he completed 14 of 17 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 134 yards and three touchdowns.

Now, he has the opportunity to play on that field again -- as a Big Ten quarterback.

"People all hyped it up before I went there (for state) that, 'This could be your debut, and stuff like that," Taylor said. "But I didn't let the hype get to me. I just played my game. It's going to be exciting to play there again, whether it's against them or for them."

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