Riley O'Toole attended a University of Illinois one-day camp this past summer and made a strong impression. Illini quarterback coach Kurt Beathard appeared as impressed with O'Toole's mechanics and potential as any quarterback with whom he worked all summer.
O'Toole was somewhat surprised to be interviewed at an AAU basketball tournament in July. He wasn't even a starter on the Wheaton Warrenville South football team that competed at the Illinois 7 on 7 camp this June, a team that lost the championship game by one point to Chatham Glenwood.
"I am not the starter," O'Toole revealed. "I am competing with an upcoming senior for playing time. Mack Tracey is pretty good. We shared time at the 7 on 7."
At the time, O'Toole figured he would be the backup quarterback this season.
"Our coach likes to play the seniors. I want to be good and just hope for the best."
Perhaps he is surprised by his early success, but Illinois coaches likely are not. In his first game as a junior Friday night, he led the Tigers to a big 34-26 win over powerhouse Hinsdale Central and its star quarterback John Whitelaw.
Sharing time with Tracey, O'Toole completed 13 of 21 passes for 234 yards and touchdowns of 5, 8, and 66 yards. His totals nearly matched those of Whitelaw and inspired the Chicago Sun-Times to feature his exploits on their website.
Perhaps it is time to learn more about this young man.
"I'm a drop-back quarterback. I'd like to think I can run a little bit, but it's not what my coach thinks. I ran a 4.9 forty."
He is humble but recognizes his strengths as a quarterback.
"My poise and my decision-making. My accuracy is good. I've been coached up pretty well."
O'Toole certainly proved that Friday. Of course, he also recognizes areas where he needs improvement.
"My quickness and my strength. I need to get bigger and stronger."
The 6'-2", 180 pounder has been flying under the radar up to now.
"I haven't really thought about college. I've just been to a couple camps, so I haven't gotten much feedback yet. Of course, I want to play football in college."
Illini coaches will no doubt be watching his progress over the next two years. But they may have a battle on their hands if they choose to offer him a scholarship.
"I really like Kansas. It's where I grew up, and my whole family goes there. We moved from there when I was in 2nd grade. I live in Illinois, so that's my hometown school. I guess whatever schools are looking at me. I don't dislike any school."
O'Toole has plenty of time to impress college coaches and decide which is best for him. And he need be in no hurry to decide upon a major. But if he wishes to follow family history, he has a good idea what career awaits.
"All my siblings are in Journalism. So that might be a possibility. But I haven't really thought about it."