Chandler Whitmer Commits To Illinois

Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini received some exciting news today with the decision of Downers Grove South quarterback Chandler Whitmer to commit to the University of Illinois. Chandler is a national recruit, and he sees an opportunity to compete for early playing time at a school that has everything for which he is looking.

Chandler Whitmer planned to make a decision on a college by the end of May, but he didn't need that long.

"I committed to Coach Zook and the Fighting Illini. I decided to sit down with my family and look at it. When I went through it, everything positive came up for Illinois. Top 10 public institution, great education, great facilities. Coach Zook is a great guy, and the offense is fun to be in and can be very successful.

"Illinois is definitely a program on the rise and a big time university. I'm happy to be part of the Fighting Illini, and I'm glad I made my decision."

Originally from Georgia, Chandler moved to Illinois two years ago. He was originally drawn to warm weather schools Arizona and Stanford.

"I was. I got caught up in all that nice warm weather, the palm trees and all that. But what it all came down to were the important things such as the people. Illlinois has great people. I also loved the academics, I could walk away with a great education. The playing time could be pretty promising, it's two hours from home so my friends, family and everybody can watch me play every week."

Whitmer was also impressed with new offensive coordinator Mike Schultz.

"Coach Schultz is a great guy too. He's a good Southern boy like myself. He likes to talk about fishing and all that. He's a good guy, and I believe that what he did at TCU was exciting, and his offense was very high energy and fun to play in.

"They're gonna cater to what talent they have at quarterback. I look forward to picking his brain a little bit and seeing what his thoughts are on what he plans to do in the future with me. Anything we can do to help win games for the Illini."

Chandler has a strong arm and can throw the long ball. But he feels it is especially important to throw the shorter passes accurately. That is what moves the chains. If necessary, he can also run with the ball.

"I'm a throw first kind of guy. That's what the quarterback's supposed to do, get the ball to the playmakers. But obviously, a quarterback's got to be a playmaker himself, and I take pride in that. Being able to take off if necessary when the pocket breaks down and make plays with my feet, that's something that's necessary to be a complete quarterback.

"Sensing the rush is something quarterbacks need to have. I don't know whether you're born with it or gain it by playing, but I've developed a feel for the game. It's a good aspect to have, and I pride myself on it."

He knows how much pressure is placed on a quarterback. He is simultaneously the most revered and most maligned player on the team. It helps to have a strong constitution.

"It definitely does. A quarterback has to have a thick skin, and a lot of different intangible aspects like toughness and leadership. It's a very fun and a very high energy and high profile position. I love it."

Part of that is tolerating the media.

"You've got to be nice to the media. I pride myself on trying to be nice to everybody."

Chandler has made friends with two of the best receivers in the nation in Proviso East's Corey Cooper and Proviso West's Kyle Prater. Cooper has already committed to Illinois, and Prater is rated the top receiver in the country and being recruited by all the major powers including Illinois.

"We've become great friends in the last year when this whole process started. We got started on MySpace really. We met each other there since Cooper and I played against each other. And then KP and I have talked since then. We've been staying in touch.

"I talked to them both today. Cooper is very excited, and I'm looking forward to playing with him. Now we just need to get Prater on board. I'll work on that.

"We'll let him have his fun and enjoy his experiences with all the offers he has. He deserves them, he's a great player. But in the end, we're gonna do the best we can to let him know where the best place for him is, and that's what he's gonna find out. We're gonna show him Illinois is the right place for him."

Whitmer has already played with Cooper and Prater on the Illinois team in a Scout 7 on 7 camp. They certainly make his job easier.

"They definitely do. Having a playmaker like Cooper is great. They have him at safety right now, but I believe he's gonna have to play both ways. And Prater is one of the top receivers in the nation. He takes pride in being the best at his game. We're all similar and have a great work ethic and pride ourselves in being the best. We're a good combination, and I hope it works out for all of us."

There was also early concerns the 6'-1", 190 pound signal caller might wish to return to his Georgia roots. But it sounds like he is planning to make the best of both worlds.

"My roots are still in Georgia. I'm a Southern boy at heart. My home is now Illinois, but I'm a Georgia boy. I'll keep that with me because I like having that Southern work ethic. I want to show that to everybody on the team."

Chandler also had some interesting news about when he plans to enroll at Illinois.

"I will be graduating early and enrolling to play spring ball."

Like last year's quarterback signee Nathan Scheelhaase, Whitmer plans to help Illini coaches recruit the best class possible to play with him.

"I plan to be at every game this year, and I plan to help recruit a great recruiting class for 2010 to Illinois."

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