We found out last week that Oklahoma State quarterback and Rochester, Illinois native Wes Lunt has decided to transfer, which means that until Lunt makes a decision on his new school, Illinois fans will be hoping that he's on his way home and coming to Champaign. It's hard to pass up on a quarterback who was able to win the starting job at Oklahoma State as a true freshman and is well-suited to the offense that Illinois will be running under Bill Cubit.
However, it's also a bit puzzling why a quarterback who won the starting job at Oklahoma State in his freshman season would decide to leave in the first place. A decision that ESPN's Big 12 blogger David Ubben tried to figure out. In Ubben's opinion Lunt's decision to leave has less to do with his possible playing time than it does a desire to return home.
He was the only Illinois native on the roster, recruited by fellow Illinoisan Todd Monken, who left his post as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator to become head coach at Southern Miss. That exit surely influenced Lunt's decision. Coach Mike Gundy's indications that [Clint] Chelf would retain the job he inherited because of injury last season, and kept with strong play down the stretch, couldn't have helped, either.
Lunt likely feels he can compete elsewhere, but with three seasons of eligibility left and his main recruiter gone, he didn't feel like he had enough to keep him in Stillwater.
In some ways, it's a head-scratching decision that has to be rooted in Lunt's desire to move closer to home. Chelf will be a senior next season, and Lunt is clearly a more refined passer than [J.W.] Walsh, who earned a niche in OSU's offense as part of a short-yardage package that often featured Walsh running.
After next season, Lunt would have been a heavy favorite to beat out Walsh for the job.
So while there's a distinct possibility that Lunt would move on to Southern Miss and follow the man that brought him to Stillwater in the first place, Hattiesburg, Mississippi isn't exactly "close to home." And if Ubben is right that Lunt's transfer is motivated by location more than opportunity, you have to think Illinois is a favorite of sorts to land Lunt.
Champaign is just over an hour drive away from Rochester depending on the weight of the foot driving the car. It's also possible that Lunt could end up at Northwestern or even Northern Illinois (Lunt's favorite target in high school, Zack Grant, recently transferred to NIU), though neither is as close to home as Illinois is. Missouri could be an option as well.
Of course, between those three schools and Illinois, the Illini were the only ones to offer him a scholarship out of high school. Though I can't be sure if that gives Illinois any real edge considering it was a different coaching staff recruiting him than the one currently in charge.
I don't know that Illinois will be where Lunt ends up, but it's clear at this point that we're certainly going to be involved in the process.