Bret Bielema

Bielema: Luke Altmyer has ‘all the touches' to be a great quarterback at Illinois

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With Tommy DeVito heading to the NFL, Illinois needed an experienced signal-caller under center this season, and head coach Bret Bielema believes they have found the right person in transfer quarterback Luke Altmyer.

Altmyer joined the Illini after spending the last two seasons at Ole Miss, and Bielema says that he believes the former top-rated recruit has what it takes to push Illinois’ offense forward.

“He has a really good football IQ, intelligence, awareness, he’s a great person, and really delves into his relationships,” Bielema told the Big Ten Country podcast. “He’s got really all the touches you need as a quarterback. He can throw it in there in a tight window. He’s got a great deep ball, he’s got good velocity on intermediate throws.”

In four games last season at Ole Miss, Altmyer had 125 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. He went 6-of-13 for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a win over Central Arkansas in September.

While he didn’t get many opportunities in the SEC, Bielema says that he expects Altmyer to provide a calming influence and veteran leadership in the huddle.

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“He brings a calmness, a steadiness and understanding, and there is a lot of carryover from the offense he was in at Ole Miss to what we are now,” he said.

Operating an offense for Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin provides its own unique challenge, but to help Altmyer in Champaign, the Illini are hoping to get big leaps forward in production at several key positions.

Redshirt junior Isaiah Williams had 82 catches for 715 yards and five touchdowns last season, and expects to see more action now that the Illini will have to balance out their offense following the departure of Chase Brown to the NFL.

Junior receiver Pat Bryant has been hyped as a potential standout for the Illinois squad, and running backs Reggie Love III and Josh McCray could provide a strong tandem to help bolster the team’s production.

Illini Inquirer’s Jeremy Werner says that the currently-constructed offense could be enough to help Altmyer to succeed, but cautions that there could be a learning curve as he enters his first season as a full-time starter.

“You’ve got somebody who’s probably going to go through growing pains,” he said. “I think you also have somebody that has the accuracy, the quick release and enough experience in college football the last two years, whether it’s on the field or off the field, that you feel like he’s able to give you a chance.”

Illinois will kick off its season on Sept. 2 against Toledo, followed by a Friday road game against the Kansas Jayhawks on Sept. 8.

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