Texas was a big priority for this staff going into 2018, so it's no surprise that they may have landed their biggest fish at the quarterback position from the Lone Star State.
MJ Rivers is a high three-star prospect from Frisco, Texas. Rivers brings mobility and a undeniable playmaking ability to the quarterback room, something Lovie and (hopefully) the rest of this offensive coaching staff can learn to utilize effectively.
SIGNED: Dual threat from Texas.✅— Illini Football (@IlliniFootball) December 21, 2017
Welcome to the #Illini family, @King_2_Be ✍️ pic.twitter.com/dqbwruj2fj
Watching his film, Rivers reminds a lot of a QB older fans of Illinois should be familiar with: Rohan Davey.
As a passer he's a bit raw, but he can sling it, throwing for almost 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns this year. Rivers isn't afraid to take chances downfield, which is something Illinois' offense has sorely needed the last several seasons. He can also be incredibly accurate in the short to intermediate route and would be a boon for speed receivers such as Mikey Dudek and grad-transfer Shaedon Meadors.
A QB that can get the ball in the hands of his playmakers was what the Illini lacked more than anything last season, so an adept distributor such as Rivers could be a breath of fresh air.
And yet, he's so much more.
Supremely gifted athletically, Rivers won't blow by you with quickness, but he's a smart runner who's a load to bring down in the open field, as attested by his 1,082 rush yards and 23 rushing TDs.
I wouldn't advocate for Rivers to start immediately, as some time to watch and integrate himself to whatever offense Illinois runs next season would be extremely beneficial. However, the sky's the limit for a player of Rivers' caliber as a possible future star awaits.