Instead of waiting a year for the quarterback room to clear out, Jimmy Fitzgerald has decided to get out of Champaign.
In a press release Wednesday, Illinois announced that Fitzgerald has decided to transfer from the Illini. The redshirt freshman had been listed co-No. 3 a,long with Jeff George Jr., behind starter Wes Lunt, and backup redshirt sophomore Chayce Crouch.
With Lunt being a senior, Fitzgerald was expected to battle Crouch and George for the starting job next year. Instead, he’ll be on the hunt for a new school.
“After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to leave the Illinois football program and consider other opportunities for my collegiate career,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “I want to thank all the coaches I’ve played for and worked with at Illinois, including Coach Beckman, Coach Cubit and Coach Smith. My Illini teammates are an incredible bunch of guys and many will remain friends for life. Having grown up in this community,
“I’ve been a life-long fan of the Fighting Illini and it was a fantastic thrill and opportunity to wear the orange and blue. I know there are great things in the future for the Fighting Illini, but I feel this is the time for a fresh start in my collegiate career.”
A three-star member of the Illini’s 2015 recruiting class, Fitzgerald was rated as the No. 33 pro-style quarterbacks in the country and the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Illinois. The Champaign native took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.
Fitzgerald chose his home school over offers from FIU and Western Michigan. Harvard and Yale offered scholarships as well.
“I met with Jimmy Tuesday evening and we discussed his future as he has decided to leave our program,” first-year head coach Lovie Smith said. “We wish Jimmy nothing but the best as he moves forward with his career. He is a terrific young man who has the respect of his teammates and all our coaches. Sometimes it just seems to a young man that the best move is to try and get a fresh start, and this is what is happening in this situation.”
Willie Taggart has found himself someone to (help) guide his first offense at Florida State.
While there’s nothing official yet from the football program, 247Sports.com was among the first to report that Maryland’s Walt Bell is set to be named as FSU’s offensive coordinator. Bell is also expected to serve as FSU’s quarterbacks coach.
ESPN.com subsequently confirmed the initial reports.
The 33-year-old Bell spent the past two seasons as the coordinator at Maryland. Prior to that, he held the same job, along with quarterbacks coach responsibility, at Arkansas State from 2014-15.
While Bell called plays during his stint with the Terrapins, it’s expected Taggart will have play-calling responsibilities with the Seminoles.
Tuesday night, the Pullman Police Department confirmed that 21-year-old Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Very early Wednesday morning, the football program and athletic department released statements addressing the devastating developments.
HEAD FOOTBALL COACH MIKE LEACH
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
INTERIM ATHLETIC DIRECTOR John Johnson
“The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinski is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.
“Earlier tonight, the football team was brought together and informed of the tragedy. There, they were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor, along with WSU Athletics medical team. The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed.“
There is utterly tragic and horrific news coming out of Pullman Tuesday night.
According to the Pullman Police Department, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead at his apartment late Tuesday afternoon of what was described as an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. “A rifle was discovered next to Hilinski and a suicide note was found,” the police stated in a release.
Police officers were called to the residence at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:40 p.m. local time) for a wellness check after the redshirt sophomore failed to show up for a team activity earlier in the day.
Hilinski was just 21 years old.
As of this posting, there’s been no official response from the football program regarding the passing of Hilinski. Wednesday, the university had been expected to announce the new athletic director replacing Bill Moos, Florida Atlantic’s Pat Chun; because of the football player’s death, that press conference will be rescheduled for a later date.
In place of Luke Falk, Hilinski started Wazzu’s Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State. With Falk off to the NFL, Hilinski was expected to be the Cougars’ starting quarterback in 2018.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Hilinski’s way-too-early passing.
Dino Babers has added a very experienced trenchman to his Syracuse coaching staff.
The school confirmed Tuesday that Babers has hired Mike Cavanaugh as his next offensive line coach. In a coaching career that spans 32 seasons, Cavanaugh has been a line coach in some form or fashion for 31 of them.
“Mike has an outstanding track record of teaching and developing quality offensive linemen,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s done it successfully at every level in college as well as the pros. This was an opportunity to add someone whose knowledge and experience will greatly enhance our staff and benefit our players.”
The past three seasons, Cavanaugh was the line coach at Nebraska. At the FBS level, he’s also served as a line coach at Oregon State (2005-14) and Hawaii (1999-2004).
From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.
“I’d like to thank Coach Babers for this opportunity and for welcoming me into the Syracuse family,” Cavanaugh said. “He and his staff have coached some of the most prolific offenses in college football. I’m excited to learn from them and to be part of the championship-caliber program they are building at Syracuse.”
The 2018 season will mark the first time since 2004 Cavanaugh is not a part of a Mike Riley-coached staff.