By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst
August 25, 2022
(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois head coach Bret Bielema finally made it publicly known who will be behind center for the first snap of the 2022 season.
The second-year coach confirmed on Thursday morning Tommy DeVito will be the starting quarterback when Illinois hosts Wyoming on Saturday (3 p.m., BTN) after telling the team of his decision this past Sunday.
“Tommy has had an incredible fall camp and I would also say Art (Sitkowski) has been playing his best football in this fall camp as well to put himself in a great situation,” Bielema said Thursday morning. “I think Tommy has made a big jump from last spring to where we are in terms of his composure in the pocket and learning how we need him to play in the game.”
DeVito, a 6-foot-2 and 208-pound quarterback with one year of eligibility remaining, arrived in Champaign this spring after verbally committing to the Illini program on Dec. 10 after being a starter at Syracuse for more than two years and was a prized recruit for then-new Orange head coach Dino Babers. DeVito, who turned 24 years old on Aug. 7, left the Syracuse program after posting 3,866 career passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns.
Devito was one of the players Bielema mentioned who was pulled after halftime of the second scrimmage during preseason camp giving hints to the idea that Syracuse transfer had won the starting job. Sitkowski, who started three games last season and came into the 2021 season opener against Nebraska in relief of Brandon Peters, will be the backup quarterback Saturday. Sitkowski was finally able to take physical reps during preseason camp following his multiple surgeries after suffering an injury in the nine-overtime win at Penn State last season.
DeVito will be the fifth different starting quarterback for the Illini program since 2019. Since Lovie Smith’s debut as Illinois head coach in 2016 (a 52-3 win over Murray State), Illinois will have five different quarterbacks (Wes Lunt, Chayce Crouch, AJ Bush, Brandon Peters and the 2022 starter) start a season opener.
“Tommy, as you guys know, is a very confident person,” Bielema said. “He did an excellent job of just being himself and you could see his teammates compliment him as we would go along this process.”
Bielema also confirmed both of his junior college transfer offensive linemen will start at guard Saturday as Canadian native Isaiah Adams will be on the left side and Zy Crisler from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College will get his first career start at right guard.
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