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The Wes Lunt decision: What it would mean for Louisville and Illinois

Both the Illini and Cardinals are looking at a lot of uncertainty at the quarterback position in 2014. Lunt would go a long way toward easing their concerns moving forward.

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Transfer quarterback Wes Lunt is set to visit Illinois again Thursday, and he's already been to Louisville, so a final decision could come quickly after that last trip to Champaign. Let's take a look at the quarterback situation at each school and what Lunt's addition would mean for them:


Incumbent starting QB: Nate Scheelhaase, who is heading into his senior year.

Lunt's potential competition in 2014: Reilly O'Toole, Aaron Bailey, Chayce Crouch. Of the three, only O'Toole has played in a college football game, and he hasn't played a ton because he's been stuck behind Scheelhaase. He wasn't bad when he did play last season, completing 74.7 percent of his throws for 564 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions

Bailey was a consensus four-star dual-threat quarterback out of high school who signed with the Illini in February. Depending on how quickly he develops, he could be tough for Lunt to beat out.

Crouch is a commitment in Illinois' 2014 class, and for all we know, he may end up flipping that commitment 17 times and ending up elsewhere entirely by the time signing day rolls around. Crouch, who is a consensus three-star prospect, probably will be looking at a redshirt season in 2014, but he could end up pushing Lunt in the years to follow.

Illinois selling points: With Scheelhaase graduating after this season, the quarterback competition will be wide open. Lunt isn't behind any of his potential competition in terms of on-field experience, and he'd have a chance to be a multi-year starter. Additionally, new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit's system is "definitely directed in Wes Lunt's wheelhouse," according to his high school coach. Lunt went to high school in Illinois and grew up a fan of the Illini, so he would not only be moving back much closer to home, he'd also be suiting up for his childhood favorites.

Lunt's potential impact on the Illini: While no one player can turn around a program by himself, Lunt would give the Illini some much-needed experience and stability at quarterback. It's certainly conceivable that he'd be more productive than Scheelhaase has been over the last few seasons, which would help the Illini program on its climb back from a 2-10 campaign in 2012.


Incumbent starting QB: Teddy Bridgewater, who is heading into his junior season.

Lunt's potential competition in 2014: Bridgewater, Kyle Bolin, Will Gardner, Brett Nelson, Reggie Bonnafon. Bridgewater is listed here because he could return in 2014, but most expect that he'll head for the 2014 NFL Draft, where he could be one of the top picks.

Gardner and Nelson are listed behind Bridgewater on the spring depth chart (pdf), and both are complete unknowns. Gardner is a redshirt freshman, and he's coming off a major knee injury he suffered last summer. Nelson is a junior college transfer who enrolled in January. He possesses good size for the position and he was ranked by 247Sports as the No. 8 pro-style juco quarterback in the 2013 class.

Bolin is a four-star incoming freshman, while Bonnafon is a consensus three-star dual-threat quarterback who is a part of Louisville's 2014 class.

Louisville selling points: While it's not an absolute certainty, Bridgewater likely will not be around next season, leaving another wide-open and winnable quarterback competition for Lunt. Lunt has the edge in experience over his competition here as well. Also, there's the winning. Louisville won 11 games last season, including the Sugar Bowl, and it is poised for more big things in 2013. Lunt would not have to endure a major rebuilding effort here, and Illinois could be a struggle for a while.

Lunt's potential impact on the Cardinals: Louisville has gone to three straight bowl games under Charlie Strong, and that streak will extend to four in 2013. The Cardinals might worry about a step back in 2014 given how little Bridgewater's possible replacements have proven. With the addition of Lunt, Louisville could feel pretty confident that the bowl train will keep rolling once Bridgewater has departed for the pros. He would also help them weather their transition to the ACC, and the stiffer competition they will see in that league.

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