Tim Beckman said Monday Illinois needed to land a quarterback in the Class of 2014.
The Illini fulfilled their coach’s objective Wednesday night.
Newark Catholic (Ohio) High School Chayce Crouch is the second quarterback Beckman and his staff have managed to reel in since arriving in Champaign.
Bolingbrook’s Aaron Bailey is set to join Illinois for the 2013 season.
Crouch, who checks in at 6 feet, 4 inches and 215 pounds, threw for 2,077 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 54 percent of his passes last season, his first as the Green Wave’s starter.
He also added 11 rushing touchdowns for Newark Catholic, which went 12-3 and lost in Ohio’s Division VI state championship game.
Division VI is the smallest of the six classes Ohio offers football in, but Newark Catholic coach Bill Franks said that fact doesn’t mean much.
“We’re a school of 300 that traditionally goes up against schools of 1,000 or bigger,” Franks said. “It’s a young person that is used to taking on the big guys.”
So is Newark Catholic. The school, located 40 miles east of Columbus, has won eight state titles in school history and has played in 14 state championship games.
Crouch had offers from Kent State, Toledo and Western Michigan before he chose Illinois.
Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit and recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh were in Newark on Wednesday morning to see Crouch throw, and before Thursday arrived, had secured a commitment from him.
“I think it’s a testament to the Illinois coaching staff that they were able to land such a high quality player and beat off the competition because the competition was wanting him to get through May and see him throw,” Franks said. “We had numerous BCS teams set up to watch him throw. We had so much faith in Illinois, though, and the coaching staff.”
Crouch is a three-sport athlete, starting at forward for Newark Catholic boys’ basketball team and starting at first base for the Green Wave’s baseball team.
Franks, in his 12th year coaching Newark Catholic after playing on three
state title teams from 1984-86, believes Crouch’s best football days are ahead of him.
“He’s had to balance his recruiting, and he’s handled it with such maturity,” Franks said. “He’s a good basketball and baseball teammate, and was still able to get the places he needed to go to get the exposure. He’s only going to get stronger and faster focusing on one sport in college.”
Franks said Newark Catholic ran multiple offenses last year, sometimes operating out of the spread and other times under center out of a power I formation.
“He’s used to throwing play action from under center, and he’s used to handing the ball off under center,” Franks said. “He’s also thrown it from the spread. He’s played in everything. He’s definitely a strong-armed passer that possesses the ability to run. He took complete command in the playoffs, be it with his leadership or be it with his throwing. Throughout the playoff run, he was just dominant.”