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Lunt Is Coming To Illinois, So Now What?

Wes Lunt won't play for the Illini until 2014 at the earliest, but what kind of impact could his transfer have on the program before then?

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

After more than a month of wondering what he would do, Wes Lunt finally made things official on Monday when he announced that he'd be transferring to Illinois. Of course, what gets lost in the understandable excitement about Lunt's decision is that he's going to have to sit out the 2013 season.

That means the earliest we'll see Wes Lunt on the field in an Illinois uniform is fall 2014. But that doesn't mean he can't have an impact on this program just by transferring here.

While some of you may be fantasizing about record-breaking seasons and Lunt leading the Illini to a Rose Bowl -- and hey, go right ahead, optimism is a fun change of pace around here -- I'm talking about what this decision does for Illinois football right now.

Going into the 2013 season there have been questions about Tim Beckman's status in Champaign. Considering a vocal portion of the fan base was calling for Beckman's head after only one season last year, it's not insane to think that another year like 2012 could lead to Beckman's dismissal.

But does Lunt change that?

I have to think Lunt coming to Champaign gives Beckman a little more rope to work with. I'm not expecting great things in 2013 from this team, just improvement, but I'm not the person that decides whether Beckman stays or goes either. That's Mike Thomas' job, and I can't help but think that with Lunt's transfer Thomas will be more inclined to give Beckman a third season to see what he can do with a top quarterback prospect like Lunt at his disposal.

It's almost as if adding Lunt to the fold allows Beckman to hit the snooze button on the 2013 season.

Lunt joining the Illini could also have a positive impact on recruiting. Lunt has already told Zach Kerker that one of the first things he's going to do is call Sacred Heart Griffin receiver Malik Turner about coming to Illinois. Lunt says he's going to tell the 3-star receiver that success at Illinois will "take a lot more than one person."

So he's not even on campus, and he's already out there recruiting.

And Lunt doesn't need to make the calls himself to help out with the recruiting. When it comes to other high schoolers in the 2014 class, Illinois becomes a more attractive destination for possible recruits with Lunt on board. I'm not saying a whole bunch of 4 and 5-star recruits are suddenly going to up and commit to Illinois, but a lot of potential targets that may have been cool on Illinois will suddenly warm up to the idea.

So Lunt's decision to transfer to Illinois should have a large impact on the program both on and off the field. It's just we're going to see the results off the field long before we see them on it.

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