Former Oklahoma State starting quarterback Wes Lunt will return to his home state and transfer to Illinois, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Monday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by Lunt to discuss the decision.
Lunt is from Rochester, Ill., and started five games last fall as a freshman for the Cowboys but was sidelined by an injury. He was the first true freshman to open the season as the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State since at least 1950.
The highly regarded Lunt will have to sit out this fall under NCAA transfer rules, but when he's available in 2014 could be an instant upgrade for a struggling Illinois program and coach Tim Beckman, who is headed into his second season in Champaign.
The 6-4, 215-pound Lunt is a pocket passer and was 81-131 for 1,108 yards — 184.7 yards a game — and threw for six touchdowns last fall.
Lunt could not be immediately reached for comment. University of Illinois coaches can't comment on him until his school paperwork is complete.
Lunt went to Oklahoma State after leading Rochester High School to two state championships. Over his last two seasons he threw for more than 7,000 yards and 65 touchdowns while throwing just eight interceptions.
The Illini finished 2-10 last fall in Beckman's first season. With redshirt junior Nathan Scheelhaase and sophomore Reilly O'Toole at quarterback, Illinois was 11th in the 12-team Big Ten in passing yardage with 168.8 yards a game. The Illini finished the season with just 11 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.
Beckman hired offensive coordinator Bill Cubit in the offseason to try to revive the offense. Barring other roster changes, Lunt would compete with O'Toole and incoming freshman Aaron Bailey for playing time.