Lunt to Illinois
Former News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year Wes Lunt will transfer to Illinois.
The quarterback from Rochester spent the 2012 season at Oklahoma State, earning a starting role before injury sidelined him.
After the season, Lunt announced his intention to transfer out of Stillwater, Okla., narrowing his final options to Illinois and Louisville. The strong-armed pocket passer visited both schools before deciding on Tim Beckman's program over the weekend.
"He wants to help turn things around there," Rochester coach Derek Leonard said today. "There were a lot of things going for him: He grew up an Illinois fan, Coach (Bill) Cubit's offense intrigued him, it's closer to home ... "
Illinois coaches can't comment on Lunt until his letter of intent is signed. Lunt and Leonard are to talk about the decision at a news conference around 5 p.m. today at Rochester.
ESPN recruiting analyst Jared Shanker said Lunt's decision could benefit Beckman's recruiting efforts.
"It definitely matters who has committed to your school, especially at quarterback which is a natural leader position," Shanker said. "It could do wonders for how the rest of the Class of 2014 shapes up."
Lunt is expected to participate in summer workouts in Champaign.
Due to NCAA transfer rules, he will sit out the 2013 season — Nathan Scheelhaase's last as starting quarterback.
Lunt will compete for the starting job in 2014 along with Reilly O'Toole and Aaron Bailey. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.
"It gives Beckman options going forward," Shanker said.
Lunt's decision is a major boost for a struggling program which has lost 14 consecutive Big Ten games and is lagging behind in recruiting rankings.
Leonard said Lunt, who played as a true freshman after arriving at Oklahoma State in spring 2012, will benefit from the year off.
"He's supposed to be at (high school) prom and he's named starter (at Oklahoma State)," Leonard said. "That's tough on any kid. Now he gets that year back."
Coming out of Rochester, Lunt never seriously considered Illinois, which was coached by Ron Zook. Beckman's hiring was too late to make a difference, Leonard said.
A second chance could benefit both parties, the high school coach said.
"He's that good," Leonard said, "and I'm not just saying that because he's mine. It's huge for the program. It changes the look and gives them a boost."