Peoria QB set to officially join the Illini

Peoria QB set to officially join the Illini

PEORIA — Coran Taylor first made a commitment to the Illinois football program on April 3. Wednesday, more than 10 months later, it becomes official.

The Peoria quarterback will sign his national letter of intent at 7 a.m. At 9 a.m.. Taylor will participate in a signing ceremony at the school along with four other Lions.

"I'm happy," Peoria coach Tim Thornton said. "This is one of my favorite times of the year. When you see kids leave with all these opportunities, I think that's the most rewarding part of it."

Taylor is one of three quarterbacks in the Illinois class, joining M.J. Rivers and Matt Robinson. Rivers signed during the December period and Robinson will sign today.

They join holdover quarterback Cam Thomas in what, for now, is one of the youngest set of quarterbacks in the Big Ten.

"I think he's going to do fantastic there," Thornton said. "He's a competitor, and he's got all the tools that you need. He knows the game of football. He's a smart, instinctive quarterback, and I think he meshed well with what Coach Rod Smith does offensively."

Rod Smith just took over as Lovie Smith's offensive coordinator. In stops at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona, Smith has coached a string of highly successful dual-threat quarterbacks.

Living a dream

Taylor has always wanted to play at Illinois, Thornton said.

"There has never been any waver," Thornton said.

Rod Smith came to the school to visit with Taylor, and they were able to talk about football.

"It went well," Thornton said. "It was a good deal."

The chance for early playing time is appealing to Taylor.

"I would imagine any quarterback who puts on a helmet at the end of August is competing for an opportunity to be the starter," Thornton said. "Walking into a situation like this, I don't know how you could look at it any other way."

Taylor is scheduled to join the team in June. What will he need to do to play early?

"You've got to hit it completely in shape when summer comes," Thornton said. "You've got to be in midseason form almost, so that the absorption of the playbook and the absorption of the new offense and the new terms and the new coaching and the new language, you want to make that transition as seamless as possible. There's going to come a point where whoever can pick it up the fastest is probably going to get out to a real clean lead. The more you can be around it, the better."

Been there, done that

Peoria's high-scoring offense figures to give Taylor an advantage. The Lions averaged 54 points during Taylor's senior season, scoring 94 against Bloomington and 82 against Peoria Notre Dame.

"I know there's a lot of carryover," Thornton said. "As far as read-option type stuff, Coran has been doing that for three years. It will help out a little bit going forward."

Taylor missed some time during the season, but is healthy now.

"It was nothing long term," Thornton said.

Taylor will see a familiar face when he arrives at Illinois. Freshman defensive lineman Kendrick Green, who redshirted in 2017, played for the Lions.

With two guys on the team, Thornton said he hopes to visit C-U this season.

"I think we can make it down for quite a few," Thornton said.


Signing Day: Part II

Wednesday, Illinois is expected to add the following players to its 2018 recruiting class. They will join the 19 players who already signed in the earlier period:

They're coming

Caleb Griffin, K, Danville

Ezekiel Holmes, DE, Wichita Falls (Texas) Hirschi

Mitch McNutt, Ath., Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley

Matt Robinson, QB, San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) J Serra Catholic

Kenyon Sims, RB, San Diego Lincoln

Coran Taylor, QB, Peoria

They're signed

Calvin Avery, DT, Dallas Bishop Dunne

Daniel Barker, TE, Deerfield Beach (Fla.)

Sydney Brown, DB, Bradenton (Fla.) St. Stephen Episcopal School

Verdis Brown, DL, IMG Academy

Edwin Carter, WR, Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood

Ron Hardge, CB, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons

Kerby Joseph, DB, Orlando (Fla.) Jones

Jartavius Martin, CB, Lehigh (Fla.)

Shaedon Meadors, WR, Appalachian State

Kievan Myers, OL, Dallas Bishop Dunne

Jakari Norwood, RB, Deerfield Beach (Fla.)

Julian Pearl, OL, Danville

M.J. Rivers, QB, Frisco (Texas) Lone Star

Carlos Sandy, WR, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons

Jordyn Slaughter, OL, Belleville Althoff

Khalan Tolson, LB, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Farragut Academy

Reuben Unije, OL, IMG Academy

Nick Walker, DB, Cisco College (Texas)

Delano Ware, DB, El Cerrito, Calif.