CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — After outdueling his two competitors, Wes Lunt will be Illinois' starting quarterback.
The news wasn't much of a surprise. Illini fans have been anticipating Lunt would lead Illinois this season since he transferred from Oklahoma State almost a year and a half ago, even with coach Tim Beckman insisting the starting spot could go to Lunt, senior Reilly O'Toole or sophomore Aaron Bailey.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Lunt gives the Illini the kind of strong-armed quarterback they haven't had in a while.
"If you look at the numbers, he's proved he can lead this football team," Beckman said Wednesday, referring to the quarterback's training camp performance. "He's made some outstanding throws, he's made some outstanding calls."
Lunt, who is from Rochester, just outside Springfield, said winning the starting job was "a dream come true."
"It's something I wanted to happen really bad," he said. "It's why I transferred here."
At Oklahoma State, he started as a freshman, running the Cowboys' potent passing offense. But he lost his spot to injury and hasn't played in a game since an appearance near the end of a blowout win over Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year's Day in 2013.
As he's worked off the rust, Illinois' coaches have marveled at Lunt's arm, saying he can make long cross-field throws and deliver balls with velocity and accuracy that the last few Illini quarterbacks could not.