CHAMPAIGN — Illinois was always in the market for a graduate transfer quarterback this offseason. M.J. Rivers II deciding to transfer after spring practices only elevated the need to add another player at that position. A veteran to go with two redshirt freshmen and a true freshman was the plan.
It took some doing — much like Illinois’ other ventures in the grad transfer market in the last several months — but Lovie Smith and Co. got their man Tuesday night when Michigan graduate transfer quarterback Brandon Peters announced his decision to spend his final two seasons in Champaign. Illinois was also in on other grad transfer quarterbacks like Tommy Stevens (Penn State to Mississippi State) and Matt Fink (opted to stay at Southern California).
"I want to thank the University of Michigan for the opportunity to represent the winged helmet," Peters wrote in an Instagram post. "The memories and friendships that I made along this journey will last a lifetime. I am excited to announce that I will be going to grad school and playing my last (two) years at the University of Illinois."
Peters will be eligible immediately at Illinois and jump right in the mix when training camp starts for the starting job. The Avon, Ind., native will compete with redshirt freshmen Matt Robinson and Coran Taylor and true freshman Isaiah Williams come August. Robinson is the only one among the three underclassmen with game experience having appeared in three games in a reserve role in 2018.
Peters, 21, will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Oct. 15 — three days after Illinois plays Michigan for the first time at Memorial Stadium since 2011.
Peters played in 11 games in the last two seasons after redshiring in 2016. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound quarterback saw more substantial playing time as a redshirt freshmen in 2017, completing 57 of 108 passes for 672 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in six games after replacing Wilton Speight midway through that season. He started the 2018 Outback Bowl against South Carolina that season.
Peters was the 2015 Indiana Mr. Football and threw for 6,843 yards and 79 touchdowns in his high school career. He was a consensus four-star recruit and was ranked as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the 2016 class. That pro-style background doesn’t make Peters an immediately clear fit for Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith’s scheme. He has negative-36 rushing yards in his career.