8 days to Camp Rantoul

8 days to Camp Rantoul

Counting down the 50 most important Illini

No. 8: Reilly O’Toole, quarterback

Why he’s important: He’s one injury away from becoming Illinois’ starting quarterback. Or one hard hit to Nathan Scheelhaase. The Wheaton native will go into August practices the backup to Scheelhaase, his close friend. He made his first two career starts in 2012 after Scheelhaase injured his left ankle in the season opener against Western Michigan. Fared well against Charleston Southern (completed a single-game record 83.9 percent of his passes and threw for career-high 333 yards) and fared poorly at Arizona State (10 of 14, 54 passing yards). He ended up playing in seven games and finished with a high completion percentage (74.7) while throwing for 564 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s more of a classic pocket passer and won’t hurt opponents with his feet, but will need to cut down on his interceptions if he plays in 2013. He threw four during the spring game, and has more career interceptions at Illinois (eight) than touchdowns. It’s in stark contrast to his senior year at Wheaton Warrenville South where he had 42 touchdowns and only three interceptions. With Scheelhaase firmly entrenched as the starter heading into the year and transfer Wes Lunt eligible to start the 2014 season, not sure how much O’Toole will see the field, but if injuries happen, Illinois has an experienced backup to turn to.

Fast fact: Bill Cubit is his third offensive coordinator in as many seasons at Illinois after Chris Beatty and Billy Gonzales called plays in 2012, with Paul Petrino handling the duties in 2011.  

Tomorrow: No. 7