Quarterback Camp Notes

Ron Zook's quarterback camp began Saturday evening and continues throughout the day Sunday. Approximately 70 quarterbacks of all ages are participating. There may be no superstars on hand, but there are a number of youngsters with potential. Read here for more on camp, get inside.

The participant I did recognize was Rob Henry from Ocala, Florida (Trinity Catholic). He has attended previous camps as Coach Zook is close friends with his family.

Mike Locksley is leading the camp. He is assisted by Kurt Beathard, Jim Pry, and Kurt Kittner. I don't know his name yet, but the new grad assistant replacing Chris Pazan is also assisting. He is a Penn State graduate. The quarterbacks are often subdivided into four groups, and they rotate from station to station to gain instruction from each of the coaches. Locksley brings them all together periodically for combined instruction while overseeing the station work.

The youngest participant is the diminutive 10 year old Justin Berry, the left-hander from suburban Chicago. He is something of a prodigy and has received advanced quarterback training. He is athletic and has a strong arm for his age. His dad is a friend and former college roommate of Illini coach Tom Sims at Pittsburgh. Since the dad is shorter than 6'-0", it remains to be seen how much of a prospect Justin will be when he is a high school senior. But he is certainly a conversation piece at this time.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Illini onlookers continue to brag about Jacob "Jake" Charest. Besides his excellent size and skill, Jake is a hard worker and is already showing definite signs of leadership. I am told he is happy here.

By the way, the Illini were fairly close on Chris Harper last year. The quarterback from Wichita considered Illinois before choosing Oregon. His recruitment points out how difficult it is to recruit and how unforeseen circumstances can play a major role in an athlete's college decision.

Harper was 12 hours late arriving for his Illinois visit, reducing his time to meet coaches and potential teammates. But his family drove to Oregon and was stuck there an extra day. It seems there was a snow storm in the area of a mountain pass the family had to drive through to return home, so they had to wait until the snow could be cleared from the road. The extra time in Oregon aided the Duck recruiting cause.

There is a strong chance Charest would have decided against Illinois if Harper had accepted a scholarship offer, so the Illini are happy with the way things turned out since they believe they have a top quarterback in Charest. Early word is that Harper has improved his arm strength and mechanics and is making a good early impression at Oregon. So perhaps both players ended up where they needed to be.

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