CHAMPAIGN — Quarterbacks Jeff George Jr. and Chayce Crouch, who started 10 of the 12 University of Illinois football games last season, will no longer be with the program.
George said Wednesday he will transfer and have two years of eligibility elsewhere. Crouch said he will no longer play football rather than transfer to another program.
With Illinois’ apparent commitment to dual threat quarterbacks, neither decision is a surprise.
George is the son of former Illini quarterback great Jeff George Sr., who became the first overall pick in the 1990 National Football League draft.
Each player posted an announcement Wednesday on Twitter.
“The University of Illinois will always be a special place for me,” George Jr. said. “Thank you to Coach (Lovie) Smith and the entire staff for helping me develop over the past couple years. With that being said, after discussions with Coach Smith and my family, it would be in my best interest to pursue my athletic career with 2 years of eligibility left at a school that will best utilize the abilities I have to offer.”
Crouch said, “I have decided to hang up my cleats and end my career as a Fighting Illini.”
This leaves the Illini with no proven depth at the quarterback position. Cam Thomas, who started two games as a freshman, returns and is the front-runner to win the starting job.
Freshman M.J. Rivers from Texas is expected to compete for playing time. Coran Taylor, a quarterback from Peoria, verbally committed to the Illini and may sign in February, although there are still unanswered questions about his academic work.
This continues a trend this offseason of players who were recruited by past head coaches Tim Beckman or Bill Cubit leaving if they felt they were being passed over.
There are exceptions, including offensive lineman Nick Allegretti and wide receiver Mike Dudek.
Smith has still not announced the hiring of a new offensive coordinator, a new cornerbacks coach or a 10th assistant coach, as is now allowed by the NCAA.
Previously Smith fired offensive coordinator Garrick McGee and cornerbacks coach Paul Williams.