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The search for the next Illinois starting quarterback continues.

Tommy Stevens, a graduate transfer from Penn State who visited Illinois almost two weeks ago, verbally committed to Mississippi State on Friday morning.

Stevens was considering Illinois, Miami (Ohio) and Kentucky before he picked the Bulldogs, where his former offensive coordinator, Joe Moorhead, is about to enter his second season in charge of Mississippi State.

Stevens, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound Indianapolis native, saw brief playing time the last three seasons at Penn State before opting this spring to transfer from the Nittany Lions. He was known more for producing with his feet (506 rushing yards, eight touchdowns) than with his arm (24 of 41 for 304 yards, four TDs, one interception) with Penn State, backing up Trace McSorley.

Who starts at quarterback for Illinois once the season starts on Aug. 31 against Akron will be a key focal point once training camp opens.

The presumed starter, M.J. Rivers II, elected to transfer earlier this month because of "personal circumstances," according to a note he posted on Twitter announcing his decision to leave Illinois after his freshman season.

Illinois reportedly received a commitment from Southern Cal graduate transfer Matt Fink in early May, but last Friday, Fink took to social media and said he was not committed to any school despite his father telling the Los Angeles Times he was coming to Illinois.

Illinois has two scholarship quarterbacks on its roster in Matt Robinson and Coran Taylor, neither who have started a college game. Both are redshirt freshmen, with Robinson seeing brief playing time in 2018 and Taylor not playing at all.

Illinois will welcome in four-star recruit Isaiah Williams this summer. The St. Louis native and two-time Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year brings considerable hype after his stellar high school career at Trinity Catholic.

Whoever Illinois decides to start at quarterback for the 2019 season opener, it'll mark the fourth different quarterback starting for the Illini in the opener since Lovie Smith became head coach in 2016.

Wes Lunt started the 2016 season opener before injuries derailed his final season, Chayce Crouch filled that role in 2017 before he was benched and ultimately decided to forgo his final season of eligibility with Illinois and AJ Bush Jr. did the same in 2018, his only season at Illinois after transferring in from Virginia Tech.

Sports Editor

Matt Daniels is sports editor at The News-Gazette. His email is mdaniels@news-gazette.com.