Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Illini King of the Hill Mound of Turnovers Presents QB Chance for Lavery

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Illini King of the Hill Mound of Turnovers Presents QB Chance for Lavery

Article excerpt

He had a premonition he would be a starter.

But for Illinois quarterback Tim Lavery, a little bit of excess baggage forced him to wait.

No, he wasn't overweight or out of form. He was just the opposite: a two-sport star, in fact, with major-league potential in baseball. That was the catch. His 85 mph fastball, sweeping curve and offspeed pitch meant a lot to the Illinois baseball team but very little to football coach Ron Turner. As it turned out, though, it was just a matter of time before his stuff would shine through on the football field. More important, it was just a matter of time before his knowledge of the intricate playbook would meet expectations. Now, that's all been done and Lavery has taken over the starting quarterback job held so far this season by junior Mark Hoekstra, 22, the only player at that position with more than one game of experience. Lavery, 18, scribbled on a goals sheet before fall camp his desire to start by the third or fourth game of the season, and he's right on target. And, it means Illinois is placing its hopes on the arm of a redshirt freshman who has only played three sets of downs in college. "The heck with being just a freshman," Lavery said. "I'm just excited to get the opportunity. I love it. I'm not going to play a perfect game (Saturday at Iowa). I will make mistakes, but I have to learn from them." As it turns out, Lavery has been learning all fall. But, for the football team, that had not been good enough until now. In the spring Hoekstra concentrated on his playbook and mechanics while Lavery pitched for the baseball team. He pulled himself out of the starting rotation during spring football practice, but his understanding of Turner's new offensive system left something to be desired. For that reason, Hoekstra won the starting job, a job he carried through fall camp and the first three games of the season. All the while, though, Lavery kept his goal close to heart. He had "a great fall camp," according to Turner, and slowly narrowed the gap as the days passed. He also watched as Hoekstra failed to perform well during the nonconference schedule. …

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