UPDATED 11:22 a.m. ET: in a press release, Illinois announced that fullback Jay Prosch will be transferring to Auburn.
“Jay Prosch has decided to transfer to Auburn and will be there for the current semester,” Illini head coach Tim Beckman said in a statement. “He will have an opportunity to be much closer to his mother, who continues to face health issues. We wish Jay the best as he makes this move.”
New Illinois head coach Tim Beckman and the spread offense that he will be bringing to Illinois has cost the Illini its first current player.
According to the Mobile Press Register, fullback Jay Prosch (No. 35) has requested a release from his scholarship. Prosch, a native of Mobile, Ala., said there were two factors that played into his decision. One, to be closer to his sick mother, who was diagnosed with brain cancer last spring. And, two, the fact that his position will be a non-entity in the offense Beckman will be installing.
“It has nothing to do with the school,” Prosch told the paper. “It’s really about the coaching change, and that sparked the idea that since there’s a coaching change maybe I can be closer to my mom, which would be awesome. …
“Ultimately, I want to be playing fullback somewhere, and I want it to be close to home.”
Prosch told the Press Register that the Illini has given him to speak to nearly 20 schools: 11 of the 12 SEC teams, plus South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette, Troy, UAB, Georgia Tech and Florida State. The only SEC school to which he not permitted to speak? Arkansas, which rehired the Illini’s former offensive coordinator, Paul Petrino, after Ron Zook was fired.
Whichever school he ultimately chooses, the football team will be landing a talented player; Pro Football Weekly named him first-team All-American. Prosch reiterated that a team that utilizes his position in its game plan is imperative. As is being closer to his mother.
“If I got to come to (the state of) Alabama to play for a school I really wanted to play for, that’d be awesome because I’d be closer to [his mom],” Prosch said. “But if I went to a school that was further away — like an SEC school or something — that I could play fullback for, I think it’d still be a win because one I’d be playing fullback and two I’d still be in the SEC and I’d be traveling closer to this area.”
The sophomore, who remains enrolled at Illinois, did allow there’s a slight chance he could stay at the school, although based on his own words labeling it a “slight chance” seems to be generous.
Due to the health of his mother, it would appear likely he could receive a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately in 2012 instead of sitting out a transfer year.