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Beckman Not Tipping Hand On 'Friendly' QB Competition

Wes Lunt, Aaron Bailey and Reilly O'Toole are all in line to potentially take over as the Illini's starting quarterback, but Tim Beckman offers no clues as to who might have the advantage when practice gets underway.

Jonathan Daniel

Tim Beckman took the podium on the start of Big Ten Media Day Monday in Chicago and one of the hot topics of the day — and likely the entire fall — was regarding who will replace Nathan Scheelhaase as the Illini's starting quarterback this season.

Sophomore transfer Wes Lunt, sophomore Aaron Bailey and senior Reilly O'Toole are all seemingly in the mix, but Beckman didn't divulge any information as to who might have a leg up to start the opener Aug. 30 against Youngstown State.

From the transcript:

As a coach and as a football team, you see great competition every day.  I mean, it comes from the weight room.  It comes from studying film.  It comes from on the field.  So you as a football coach, I mean, you love that, because that's what the game of football's all about.
All three of them are very, very close friends.  So there's not the rivalry, that type of thing going on.  They all want each other to be successful, because they realize if‑‑ whoever it might be that will be, that person will make our team better, and how important that is in the game of football.  This is, you're talking about 105 of your family members being a part of that.
So it's going to be a great competition.  We look forward to it, and I know they look forward to it.

Of the three, Lunt comes with the most hype. The sophomore was the No. 7 quarterback prospect in the country coming out of Rochester High School, per rivals, and spent a year at Oklahoma State (cut short by injuries), before transferring to Illinois a year ago.

Similarly, Bailey was a top quarterback recruit when Beckman nabbed him out of Bolingbrook two years ago.

One of the biggest issues facing Beckman in choosing between the two — or O'Toole — is that while Lunt and O'Toole are both bigger, pro-style pocket passers, Bailey is a scrambler.

Picking a quarterback and sticking with him throughout practice and into the season will be key to establishing consistency in the offense, particularly the blocking schemes up front.