CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — It’s the first day of Illinois football training camp, but one player has already left the team. Quarterback Samari Collier announced he’s entering the transfer portal and all eyes are on the quarterbacks, with only have three scholarship QB’s on the roster.
WCIA-3 Sports Director Bret Beherns has more on the competition for the starting QB role and head coach Bret Bielema’s second year as head coach.
Training camp is nothing new for Illinois super-senior Alex Palczewski, this is the offensive lineman’s sixth time opening up fall workouts with the Illini but the feelings never get old for the old man on campus.
“It’s kind of weird I was getting ready this morning and I still have those goosebumps, like this is my sixth training camp but it’s an exciting time every single year,” Alex Palczewski said.
That excitement for Illini Nation is only heightened by a quarterback competition. Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito is the new guy in the mix, competing primarily with former Rutgers transfer Art Sitkowski, who arrived in Champaign prior to last season. Both guys bring Power 5 experience and an outspoken leadership style, but it’s DeVito who has struck an early tone with his teammates.
“He’s really confident, he’s got that Jersey swag,” Illinois wide receiver Casey Washington said.
“He’s just got that, ‘Hey, how you doin?’ A little bit too much Jersey for me but I mean he’s been doing fantastic,” Palczewski said.
“He’s not a guy that plays with nerves, he just gets out there and lets it rip,” Washington said.
“Those two naturally have that QB DNA,” Head coach Bret Bielema said. “They’re talkers but they’re two different guys too. Tommy is truly one of those guys that embraces, enjoys and loves life every day, very outspoken demeanor. Art is more of a coaching voice, very authoritarian, not afraid to dictate, not afraid to critisize of others but also of himself in a positive way so two different guys there but I’m excited to see where they go.”
Bielema added he may not decide on a starting quarterback until game week to fuel the competition for a group and a room that has needed more of it the past couple of years.