The No. 1 Illini is ...

The No. 1 Illini is ...

Editor's note:  Get more Illini football news Monday at 5:10 on WDWS as the News-Gazette Sports Page broadcasts live from T & T Tavern in Rantoul.


Counting down the 50 most important Illini.

No. 1: Wes Lunt, QB

Why he’s important: The fate of the 2014 season doesn’t rest entirely on the right arm of the likely Illinois quarterback. Only 99.9 percent. Kidding. Maybe. The main offseason storyline of how Lunt will fare in Bill Cubit’s offense can start to get answered in three weeks. Even though Tim Beckman hasn’t named a starter yet, the Oklahoma State transfer is the one fans and media are clamoring to see. Like Cubit has stated before, the ball just comes out differently from his right arm. In a good way. How Lunt, who ran the Illinois scout team last fall while he sat out because of NCAA transfer rules, can handle a 12-game schedule, including eight Big Ten opponents, is an aspect to watch closely. Injuries derailed his freshman season at Oklahoma State. If the two-time state champion from Rochester didn’t suffer a dislocated kneecap and a concussion in 2012, injuries that limited him to six games and made Mike Gundy re-open the starting quarterback job, who knows if Lunt is with the Illini and not still with the Cowboys. He didn’t fare well in the spring game, but he can make any type of throw Cubit so desires. With the Illinois offense so dependent on what the quarterback does, it’s pretty clear why Lunt should hold this spot going into the season. Now it’s his turn to deliver on the expectations.  

Fast fact: Checking in at 6 feet, 5 inches, if Lunt does win the starting nod, he’ll become the first 6-5 quarterback to start for Illinois since Jon Beutjer in 2004. Of the nine other quarterbacks to start games since Beutjer’s last season, heights have ranged from 6-1 (Chris Pazan), 6-2 (Brad Bower, Tim Brasic and Juice Williams), 6-3 (Nathan Scheelhaase and Aaron Bailey) and 6-4 (Eddie McGee, Jacob Charest and Reilly O’Toole).

Previous rankings
No. 2: Earnest Thomas

No. 3: Josh Ferguson

No. 4: Mason Monheim

No. 5: Simon Cvijanovic

No. 6: Reilly O'Toole

No. 7: T.J. Neal

No. 8: Ted Karras

No. 9: V'Angelo Bentley

No. 10: Aaron Bailey

No. 11: Teko Powell

No. 12: Matt LaCosse

No. 13: Geronimo Allison 

No. 14: Zane Petty

No. 15: Jon Davis

No. 16: Martize Barr

No. 17: Austin Teitsma

No. 18: Dawuane Smoot

No. 19: Kenny Nelson

No. 20: Justin Hardee

No. 21: Taylor Barton

No. 22: Donovonn Young

No. 23: Michael Heitz

No. 24: Alex Hill

No. 25: Jihad Ward

No. 26: Austin Schmidt

No. 27: Mikey Dudek

No. 28: Caleb Day

No. 29: Eaton Spence

No. 30: Mike Svetina

No. 31: Darius Mosely

No. 32: Justin DuVernois

No. 33: DeJazz Woods

No. 34: Taylor Zalewski

No. 35: Jaylen Dunlap

No. 36: Devin Church

No. 37: Tyrin Stone-Davis

No. 38: Paul James

No. 39: Jarrod Clements

No. 40: Joe Spencer

No. 41: Ralph Cooper

No. 42: B.J. Bello

No. 43: Jake Howe

No. 44: Joe Fotu

No. 45: Tyler White

No. 46: Zach Hirth 

No. 47: Eric Finney

No. 48: Zeph Grimes

No. 49: Carroll Phillips

No. 50: Clayton Fejedelem

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments