Illini green at QB after Charest leaves

Paul Petrino left a comfortable situation at Arkansas for a potentially unstable one at Illinois because he wanted to see how he fared as an offensive coordinator outside the shadow of his big brother, Bobby.

Petrino wanted a challenge. It's safe to say he's got one with Illinois in 2010.

Jacob Charest's decision to leave the team and return home to North Carolina leaves Illinois with just three scholarship quarterbacks for the 2010 seasons. Three quarterbacks with zero game experience, I might add.

Illinois made the right call last week when it named redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase as its starting quarterback entering the 2010 season. Scheelhaase separated himself in the quarterback competition this spring and deserved the right to enter summer workouts as the leader of the offense.

Still, it would have been nice to have Charest around. He knows what its like to start a Big Ten game, having done so against Northwestern last fall. Charest appeared in four contests in 2009, completing 28 of 56 passes for 382 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

It's worth nothing that Charest's decision to leave reportedly was made before Illinois named Scheelhaase the starter. According to The (Champaign) News-Gazette, he wanted to be closer to his family in Charlotte, N.C.

Would Charest likely have seen the field at some point for Illinois this fall? The odds favor it, especially with a redshirt freshman starter at quarterback.

Chandler Whitmer, who impressed the coaches this spring but remains a true freshman, now moves into the backup role. Incoming freshman Miles Osei apparently will be the No. 3 quarterback.

Illinois might have to reconsider the role of senior Eddie McGee, projected to be a full-time wide receiver this season. McGee served as the team's backup quarterback for the better part of the last three seasons, completing 58 of 111 passes for 806 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in his career. He has to be an option at quarterback, if only in an emergency role.

Charest isn't a major loss, but his departure gives Illinois a little less insurance at the most important position on the field. It also increases the challenge for Petrino and his offensive staff.