O'Toole's sticking around
CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois quarterback who holds the single-game record for completion percentage has no plans to transfer.
Even with Wes Lunt’s transfer last month from Oklahoma State to Illinois, a move that will make the Rochester product and 2011 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year eligible in the 2014 season, Reilly O’Toole said he is not thinking about going to another school.
“I think that’s been in the rumor mill for the last couple years,” O’Toole said with a laugh. “I’m happy where I am. I love the people here, and I love being close to home.”
The Wheaton Warrenville South graduate, who won the 2010 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year honors a year before Lunt did, has made two career starts in his two seasons so far at Illinois and seen action in 17 games.
His first start, at Arizona State in Illinois’ second game last year, did not go well. Illinois lost 45-14, and O’Toole completed 10 of 14 passes for 54 yards, one touchdown and one interception. A week later, during a 44-0 blowout home win against Football Championship Subdivision foe Charleston Southern, O’Toole went 26 of 31 for 333 yards with five touchdowns and one interception, completing a record 84 percent of his passes.
O’Toole has thrown for 834 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions, completing 68 percent of his passes, during his first two seasons in Champaign.
O’Toole, Lunt and incoming freshman Aaron Bailey are expected to contend for the starting quarterback job once Nathan Scheelhaase exhausts his eligibility after the 2013 season. Lunt will have three seasons of eligibility starting in 2014, and assuming O’Toole doesn’t use a redshirt season in 2013, he will have one year of eligibility left to use either in 2014 or 2015.
“I was fine about it,” O’Toole said of Lunt’s transfer. “Obviously, he has to sit out a year. I want to help the team this year, so that doesn’t really have any immediate impact on me. I’m just worried about this upcoming season, winning games in the Big Ten and getting better this year. That stuff will all play itself out.”
O’Toole said he had heard of Lunt a few times before O’Toole’s high school career ended but never saw Lunt play in high school.
“I know he’s a great player,” O’Toole said. “He has done good things, and I’m excited to have him here because he’ll definitely help us out.”
O’Toole has spent most of the summer in Champaign-Urbana, working out with his teammates and helping the offense take part in various passing drills, including 7-on-7 work and one-on-one drills. O’Toole said he throws three times a week in the situational drills and thinks the squad has developed a tighter-knit relationship once spring practices ended.
“The coaches gave us an idea of what they wanted before summer, and we just go off of that,” O’Toole said. “It’s going well. We’re coming together as a team and getting closer. It feels really cool to bond with them.”
Single-game tickets on sale beginning Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN — Single-game Illinois football tickets for the seven home games the Illini will have in 2013 go on sale to the general public at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Fans can purchase tickets online at fightingillini.com, by phone at 1-866-ILLINI-1 or in person at the State Farm Center ticket office.
Ticket prices for the three nonconference games against Southern Illinois at 11 a.m. Aug. 31, Cincinnati at 11 a.m. Sept. 7 and Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 28 start as low as $39 each.
Three of the four Big Ten games Illinois will host at Memorial Stadium — Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Oct. 19, Michigan State at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26 and Northwestern on Nov. 30 — have tickets at $49 apiece. Tickets for the Ohio State game on Nov. 16 are $60 each.
Sideline season tickets still are available for as low as $230, and student season tickets are available for $99. A limited number of $99 season tickets in the Horseshoe remain available, and tickets for the Illinois-Washington game at 5 p.m. Sept. 14 at Soldier Field are on sale now for as low as $30.