Jeff Brohm has an outstanding record as a quarterback guru. He needs all his expertise this spring to simultaneously teach new concepts to young, inexperienced quarterbacks while seeking the best one to lead the Illinois football team. He admits it is still a three-way battle.
"Yes we do," Brohm explains. "All three guys are working hard and showing progress. Obviously, right now their heads are spinning a little bit, but I think all three are battling and competing. Hopefully, one will start to outshine the others here soon."
Brohm is treating all three as equals.
"Right now, we're trying to split it equally among all three. We want to give them a fair chance. I think when you do that, normally a guy emerges. So we're hoping that happens. Once we get into scrimmages and live stuff, more simulated game stuff, we'll be able to see more clearly who that guy's gonna be."
All three quarterbacks are picking up their assignments quickly.
"I think so. They've put in a lot of time and effort on their own studying, watching tape, coming in and learning from any mistakes they make. It's gonna be a process. It's all new terminology, new learning.
"It's one thing to know it on the chalk board and another when you get out here with game speed. Knowing it with quick recall is a tough thing. That's what they need to get better at."
Each quarterback has done some good things this spring, and each has made mistakes. Brohm realizes mistakes can be beneficial in his analysis. He needs to find the one who responds best to adversity.
"They're gonna make mistakes. You want guys that are tough, that don't let mistakes get them down. We want guys that are leaders and find a way to get first downs and points.
"And then the key is taking care of the ball, making decisions. You don't have to be a great thrower but throw with accuracy and lead the offense. So that's what we're looking for."
Overall, progress is being made. The ultimate goal is to identify the best one to lead the offense and then adapt the offense to that one's talents.
"I think it's going well. Guys are picking things up. We're throwing a lot at them right now. Once we get a guy at that quarterback position we're comfortable with, we'll mold the offense around him.
"Once we figure out who the starters are gonna be, we'll mold the offense around those guys and what they do best. Then, things will start clicking and guys will understand what's going on and be able to pick things up. That's when we'll take off."
Charest ran with the first team offense the first week of practice, while Scheelhaase has played that role second week. Charest has the stronger arm, while Scheelhaase has great feet for scrambling and running bootlegs. Whitmer is a first-semester freshman, but he has impressed with his fundamental soundness, beautiful throwing motion and accuracy.
Brohm is eager to choose a leader, but he is patient with the process.
"We don't really have a timetable, but the sooner the better. We're gonna throw them to the wolves, give them a bunch of reps, see who picks things up and emerges. We'd like to make one by the end of spring, but that's not a definite thing."