The transfer portal was extremely good to Illinois during the offseason. There may not have been a program in college football that benefitted more from that market.
While the Illini raked in several big-time players from big-time programs, landing former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters might’ve been the most significant addition of the offseason. Illinois was shallow at the position and didn’t have much experience under center.
Not having the depth and talent needed to compete in the B1G, it could’ve been a tough situation in 2019. But Peters decided that Illinois was the best fit for him, reigniting some confidence from the orange and blue fanbase.
After the first day of fall camp, Peters explained why he chose Illinois over other programs.
“It was a good opportunity for me coming in late out of the [transfer] portal,” Peters said in a video posted on Illini Inquirer. “Coach Rod [Smith] showed a lot of interest in me, so it felt like a good place to come to.”
Peters reiterated that Smith, Illinois’ offensive coordinator, made it clear what the expectation level was for him in Champaign. That only made the Illini offer more intriguing.
“Really, he just talked to me and told me what he expected out of me as a player, seeing my film from Michigan” Peters said. “We’re gonna stay within the offense with me, but I just thought it was a great opportunity, what he was presenting to me.”
At Michigan, Peters played sparingly, with most of his snaps coming in 2017. That year, he appeared in six games and made four starts. He threw for 672 yards and four touchdowns while completing passes at a 52.8 percent clip.
Last year, Peters threw just two passes.
Illinois’ revamped offense under Smith also stood out to Peters. Even though he didn’t run that kind of system at Michigan, it is one he’s familiar with.
“It was something I did in high school,” Peters said. “I was more in a pro-style offense at Michigan. We kinda switched it up my last spring ball there, so I’ve been in this system a little bit and experienced it.”
Peters said the key for him in the offense will be getting the ball out of his hands quick.
Even though Illinois’ quarterback room isn’t quite as crowded as it was in Ann Arbor, Peters isn’t escaping competition. Incoming freshman Isaiah Williams, a dynamic, four-star athlete, is also expected to make a run at the starting job. It should create a fun competition this fall.
That’s something the Illini haven’t had in quite some time.