Updated: July 20, 2013 6:54AM
Wes Lunt, who soured on Oklahoma State after starting five games last fall during his injury-diminished freshman season, formally signed with Illinois on Tuesday.
It’s a great coup for Illini coach Tim Beckman, who needs all the help he can get. After a demoralizing 2-10 first season last fall, Beckman enters his second year at Illinois amid speculation about whether another dismal campaign will cost him his job.
“We’re thrilled that Wes has decided to come back home to the state of Illinois to play for the Fighting Illini,” Beckman said in a news release. “As he showed last season starting as a true freshman for Oklahoma State, he’s an exceptional talent and an exceptional person.”
It’s also a gamble for Lunt, who knows he could face a coaching change after he sits out this fall.
‘‘Of course, you look at that, and you want to be with the same staff the whole time you’re there,” Lunt said at a news conference at his high school in Rochester, Ill., near Springfield. ‘‘Unfortunately, that’s college football. They’ll be there as long as I’m there; I’m going to try to make sure of that.’’
After winning the starting job at Oklahoma State as a true freshman, Lunt passed for 1,108 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions before being sidelined by a pair of injuries. Two other quarterbacks, Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh, stepped in last fall, and Chelf reportedly emerged from spring practice as the likely starter.
Todd Monken, the Oklahoma State offensive coordinator who recruited Lunt, has left Stillwater to become the coach at Southern Miss. And Lunt said in a recent interview, ‘‘After spring ball and talking with [coach Mike] Gundy, [transferring] was just the right thing to do.”
Monken, a Wheaton native who comes from a family filled with high school coaches in Illinois, would have been a very intriguing candidate for the Illinois job. He coached one of the nation’s most dynamic offenses, has roots here and was very interested in the job.
Where the plot also thickens — and doesn’t it always at Illinois? — is how the Lunt development plays out regarding Aaron Bailey, the star quarterback from Bolingbrook who was the headliner of Beckman’s 2013 class.
How Beckman handles his two talented QBs will say a lot — to the two young men, the rest of the team and Illini Nation.
In a lesson that the incumbent, Nathan Scheelhaase, has been learning the hard way, Lunt said a quarterback, no matter how good, does not make a team.
“It’s going to take a lot more than one person,’’ Lunt said in an interview. ‘‘I know that.’’
NOTE: Trevor Kanteman, a junior-college tight end from Pierce College in California who was injured last fall, also has signed with Illinois and is eligible to play this fall.