23 days to Camp Rantoul

23 days to Camp Rantoul

Counting down the 50 most important Illini

No. 23: Aaron Bailey, quarterback

Why he’s important: He is the big-time recruit Illinois football fans are craving. Whether that means he’ll see any action in 2013 isn’t entirely clear. But the Bolingbrook product is the cream of Tim Beckman’s first full recruiting class at Illinois. He gave Illinois a verbal commitment in late April and stuck with Illinois despite all of the team’s struggles during Beckman’s first year. An above-average runner, Bailey is coming off a knee injury that derailed half of his senior season with the Raiders. Questions abound about his throwing arm, but his competitive nature and big-play capabilities are major selling points. Nathan Scheelhaase has a firm grasp on the starting job in 2013, but who knows what could transpire between Bailey and Reilly O’Toole during Camp Rantoul. And then Wes Lunt arrives for the 2014 season, which should set off an intense quarterback competition for the starting job.

Fast fact: Bailey — who won a Class 8A state championship in 2011 at Memorial Stadium — is one of two four-star recruits Illinois landed in the Class of 2013. He picked the Illini ahead of offers from Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Wisconsin, among others.

Tomorrow: No. 22