McGrew: 'I loved Illinois'

Wes Lunt’s decision to transfer to Illinois ruined any chances of Henry McGrew winning the starting quarterback job.

We’re kidding, of course.

McGrew is coming to Illinois. To try to win a linebacker spot.

Although don’t be surprised if you see McGrew, who became the sixth commit in Tim Beckman’s Class of 2014 when he gave his verbal pledge to the Illini on Tuesday, lined up at quarterback this fall for Blue Valley (Kan.) High School.

“No, I won’t be challenging him,” McGrew said with a laugh of the former Oklahoma State quarterback. “I hadn’t heard too much about (Lunt), but when I did hear about that transfer, it definitely got me excited. But I’ll be an inside backer at Illinois.”

Illinois running backs coach and special teams coordinator Tim Salem was the lead recruiter on McGrew, who checks in at 6 feet 3, inches and 240 pounds, with inside linebackers coach Mike Ward closing in on him late.

McGrew picked up an Illinois offer this past spring and settled on the Illini shortly thereafter.

“I just felt in my heart that I loved everything about Illinois,” McGrew said. “I feel like my strengtrhs def. are my size, strength and athelticism.”

McGrew said his decision came down to Illinois, Iowa State and Kansas, He had offers from those two Big 12 programs, along with one from Idaho and former Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino.

“I feel I have a strong relationship with both Coach Salem and Coach Ward,” McGrew said. “I met a lot of the other coaches on the staff, too, and developed a good relationship with all of them, including Coach Beckman.”

McGrew compiled 109 tackles and five sacks last season for Blue Valley, which is a school of 1,500 a half hour from Kansas City, Mo., and went 6-5 last season.

He also rushed for 164 yards on 42 carries and a team-high eight touchdowns last fall for the Tigers as their short-yardage quarterback in goal-line situations mainly.

The Kansas City area has obviously produced Nathan Scheelhaase from Kansas City Rockhurst High School, but Illinois has not had a player from the state of Kansas earn a letter since 1927.

Seriously.

McGrew camped at Missouri a few weeks ago and visited Kansas on Friday.

“It was a very hard decision for me to make about Kansas,” McGrew said. “But I felt like Illinois was the place.”

He doesn’t plan on going to any other camps or visiting other schools now that he’s committed to Illinois.

“My goal is to definitely get some early playing time at Illinois,” McGrew said. “I’m just working as hard as I can. It’s a great feeling knowing I can go into the season not having to worry about making a decision and worry about where I’ll be playing ball.”

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