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Tommy Stevens is available. Should Illinois pursue?

The Penn State quarterback is looking to transfer and would be immediately eligible.

NCAA Football: Penn State Blue-White Game Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s preface this by saying at this point, Illinois is merely a contender and not necessarily the favorite to land Penn State Nittany Lions graduate transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens.

According to Fox/FS1 and The Athletic college football reporter Bruce Feldman, Stevens is considering and has scheduled visits to Illinois, Miami (Ohio) and Mississippi State. Stevens is originally from Indianapolis and was a high 3-star recruit in the class of 2015.

Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of adding a player like Tommy Stevens into the mix.

Pro

Some experience, and definitely more than current quarterbacks Coran Taylor, Matt Robinson and incoming freshman Isaiah Williams. Tommy Stevens mostly sat behind Trace McSorley for the past three years at Penn State. Despite being a backup, Stevens has seen the field against Big Ten competition.

He’s been under center at The Big House in a game against Michigan. He’s seen the likes of Maryland, Indiana and Wisconsin. His passing attempts were few and far between, but having someone who’s at least been in the fire matters in game preparation and in the quarterback room.

Con

Stevens does not have as a big of an arm as MJ Rivers and he’s not nearly as mobile at Matt Robinson, Coran Taylor or Isaiah Williams. He does a lot of things well, but is not great at any particular quarterback trait you’re looking for.

Pro

He’s big and can take hits. If Tommy Stevens joins the Illini, he’ll be the biggest quarterback on the roster — and it’s not even close. He’s got similar height to MJ Rivers at 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, but Stevens is about 30 pounds thicker than Rivers.

With Tommy Stevens’ being that big, one would expect he’d be a prototypical pocket passer. We’re not saying he’s as innovative or electric on the run as Trace McSorley, but Stevens does like to move outside of the pocket.

Also in short-yardage situations — 3rd down and 1 or 4th down and goal at the 1 — who wouldn’t want a 6-foot-5, 240-pound sure-handed quarterback running a QB sneak?

Con

What kind of message does it send to the quarterbacks currently on the roster? After Spring Practice and with the incoming arrival of Isaiah Williams, it’s clear that offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith is undecided on who the starter will be.

MJ Rivers started games last season. Coran Taylor redshirted in 2018 and is a local kid. The staff by all accounts loves Matt Robinson. Isaiah Williams is Illinois’ biggest recruit in years and likely turned down his blue chip offers (Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and others) knowing he’d have a fair, even shot of winning the job in the summer.

If Tommy Stevens comes in, does that shake the foundation of the quarterback room and the Cory Patterson connections with St. Louis ‘croots, of which Isaiah Williams was the best of the bunch?

Pro

Tommy Stevens can help Illinois win football games. As a starter or even in a backup spot, Stevens is good enough to play on Saturdays lead Illinois to victory.

What do you think? Are you in favor of adding Tommy Stevens to the roster?

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