Redshirt freshman quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald is transferring from Illinois, according to a press release put out by the University this morning. The former three-star prospect never played in a game for the Illini but was one of the primary backup options, along with Chayce Crouch and Jeff George Jr.
Fitzgerald, a graduate of Champaign Centennial High Schoool, redshirted last season after tearing his ACL during his senior season. He was absent from the Illini’s training camp last week from what head coach Lovie Smith said were "personal reasons."
"After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to leave the Illinois football program and consider other opportunities for my collegiate career," Fitzgerald said in the statement. "I want to thank all the coaches I’ve played for and worked with at Illinois, including Coach Beckman, Coach Cubit and Coach Smith. My Illini teammates are an incredible bunch of guys and many will remain friends for life. Having grown up in this community, I’ve been a life-long fan of the Fighting Illini and it was a fantastic thrill and opportunity to wear the orange and blue. I know there are great things in the future for the Fighting Illini, but I feel this is the time for a fresh start in my collegiate career."
With Fitzgerald moving onto another program, the Illini are limited to just three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster for this season, although the team picked up walk-on Camren Miller — a freshman from Brother Rice in Chicago — earlier this week.
This is the second quarterback to leave the program since Smith took over earlier this year, as Eli Peters transferred to Toledo in May.
Fitzgerald figured to be in the running, along with Crouch, George Jr., and incoming freshman Cameron Thomas, to start under center in 2017 once senior Wes Lunt graduates.