Two members of Illinois' 2016 recruiting class have signed National Letters of Intent and will enroll early at the university. On Tuesday, the program officially announced the additions of three-star quarterback Eli Peters (Jacksonville, FL) and JUCO defensive back Ahmari Hayes (Davis, CA). The duo will begin classes at the start of the second semester in January, and they'll be eligible to participate in the team's Spring 2016 practices.
Hayes, who gave a verbal commitment to the Illini just last week, joins the team from the College of San Mateo in California; he will be considered a junior and have two years of eligibility once he reaches campus. During his sophomore season, Hayes recorded 27 tackles, 2.0 TFLs, and 5 PBU's on his way to All-Bay 6 League honors.
Here's what Bill Cubit had to say about the addition:
"Ahmari is a tall, athletic corner who can run. We need some size for press coverages and he did a lot of that in junior college. He will be challenging for playing time this fall, so the experience he gets this spring will help him get ready for that."
~ Bill Cubit
Whereas Hayes just joined the Illini, Eli Peters became one of first members of the program's 2016 recruiting class when he committed back in March. The 6-foot-3, 210 lb. signal caller is rated as a three-star recruit by all the major recruiting services; he was ranked as the No. 37 pro-style QB by both 247Sports and ESPN. If his development progresses as expected, he could fit very well into Cubit's desired offense in a few years.
"Eli is one of the top quarterbacks in the state of Florida. He's very versatile. He can throw and run, and his leadership and character will make him a great fit at Illinois. Coming in this spring will give him a head start on learning our system and will help him prepare for competition with the returning group of quarterbacks.
~ Bill Cubit
Like Cubit stated above, Hayes will absolutely be competing for immediate playing time throughout the Spring and into Fall training camp thanks to the departures of V'Angelo Bentley and Eaton Spence. Peters, on the other hand, could see a redshirt season depending on how comfortable the coaching staff is with the other quarterbacks on the roster. Wes Lunt will presumably be the starter in 2016, but both Chayce Crouch and Jimmy Fitzgerald each have some experience in the system behind him.
But none of that really matters right now. No matter what their respective impacts may be, it's never a bad thing to have players report to school early. Welcome aboard!