The 90 Illini #78: Coran Taylor
Because so many freshmen played in 2017, there's this long list of names from the 2018 and 2019 recruiting classes who are just waiting and waiting for their turn. I've talked through so many different angles of playing 22 freshmen in 2017, but I'm not sure I've discussed this one enough. We've talked about how all of the stars of the 2019 class redshirted (partly because of the 2017 class, partly because of the transfers), but perhaps I haven't talked about The Forgotten Guys enough.
For example, Palcho, Lowe, Kramer, and Green put a stranglehold on the offensive line spots. That stranglehold continues this season as well, with a senior transfer joining them (Blake Jeresaty) and another senior (Jake Cerny) holding down the 6th Man spot (or perhaps Cerny starts and Jeresaty is 6th Man). Which means that for guys like Verdis Brown and Jordyn Slaughter, it's second string for three full years before they have a chance to grab one of the spots. They're forgotten at this point (with many assuming they just haven't been good enough or something). In 2021, two dozen of those guys will try to have a "hey, remember me?" moment.
With the upperclassman transfer quarterbacks who have been brought in (AJ Bush and then Brandon Peters), it's the same thing for Coran Taylor. He got his offer from Illinois in December of 2016. Fall of 2021 is when he gets his first true shot at the starting job.
78. Coran Taylor
Uniform number: 7
Year in school: Redshirt Sophomore (3 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-2" -- Weight: 210 lbs.
Hometown: Peoria, Illinois
High School: Peoria HS
Five best offers: Miami (OH), Illinois State
Tom Cruise rating: 2.5 Cruises
2019 statistics: Played in one game (Rutgers). No pass attempts, 11 yards rushing on two carries.
He led Peoria HS to the state title in November of 2016 and soon after got an offer from Illinois. He then committed in March of 2017, the first member of the 2018 class. In 2018 he redshirted and then in 2019 he got in the Rutgers game in the 4th quarter.
With Peters coming in last year and grabbing the starting spot, the first battle for Taylor was for the backup spot last year. That spot was won by classmate Matt Robinson, with Isaiah Williams getting the "we'll use him in four games and redshirt him" treatment. This fall it's likely the same battle but with Deuce Spann being added to the mix. Peters will start, and then those four will fight it out for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th string.
With Peters starting as a senior, his 2020 will be all about continuing the prep work for that 2021 QB battle. The 2021 race will be:
- rJR Matt Robinson
- rJR Coran Taylor
- rSO Isaiah Williams
- rFR Deuce Spann
- FR Samari Collier
Obviously, whoever wins the backup spot this year becomes the favorite to win the job next year. So this is a big chance for Taylor to make an "I know the offense now and I'm ready to make some noise at practice" statement. And then, next spring, may the best man win.
The big question after that: say Deuce Spann wins the starting job and at the Nebraska game in Ireland (if the game is still in Ireland) it's Spann leading Illinois to a two touchdown victory. Might we then see Isaiah Williams at wide receiver and Coran Taylor at (just spitballing here) safety? When there's a five-man QB battle with no seniors involved, you're probably going to see some position switches (and some transfers) after the starter is named.