The world of college football recruiting is essentially a never-ending cycle. Once one class has signed, it’s time to start working on the next. After securing a solid 2017 recruiting class, Illinois football fans were wondering if Lovie Smith was ever going to get started on the 2018 class.

On Monday, Smith finally received his first commitment. And it was a big one.

Coran Taylor, a three-star quarterback from Peoria High School, announced via Twitter that he was indeed committing to the Illini. Taylor has been listed as the number one quarterback in the state of Illinois and the number 29 quarterback in the nation by Scout. He is exactly the type of quarterback that Smith and offensive coordinator, Garrick McGee, want to run their offense. Taylor is a dual-threat quarterback with a big arm, who is just as dangerous on the ground as he is through the air.

This is a big commitment for Illinois football for a couple of reasons.

First of all, the Illini are thin at quarterback. Heading into this season they only have junior, Chayce Crouch, and sophomore, Jeff George, returning. Neither of these two did enough last season to solidify their position as the starter heading into this season. It should be an open competition this summer with the other incoming candidates.

Those candidates include freshman, Cam Thomas, and hopefully junior college transfer, Dwayne Lawson. Both Thomas and Lawson fit the athletic, dual-threat mold that the staff is seeking at the position. The issue with Thomas is that he is a little raw and could use a redshirt season to refine his skills and build strength. As for Lawson, his status is still up in the air as he is still working on completing his associates degree before he can arrive on campus. As of now, it sounds as if he is on track to do so.

Taylor committing not only gives Illinois additional depth for 2018, but it also adds another quarterback with the dual-threat skill set. With the additions of Thomas, Lawson and now Taylor, it’s clear that Illinois football is building a specific brand at the position going forward.

This commitment is also important because it was not only the first one for the 2018 class, but it was also an in-state commitment. This will now hopefully open the doors for other in-state recruits to follow. Taylor followed is high school teammate, Kendrick Green (2017 recruit), to Illinois and is hopeful that others will now follow in their footsteps.

“I hope it does continue to grow to the underclassmen,” Taylor said. “I hope they step up and realize that dreams can come true if they just work for it, they can get there and be a part of that Peoria pipeline.”

Getting the top in-state players to stay home and play football at Illinois is obviously a high priority for Smith and his staff. After missing on a few, Taylor finally broke the ice and hopefully started a trend not only in Peoria, but statewide.

This is an important recruiting class for Smith and it just got started in a big way.

Todd Thorstenson is a staff writer covering the Chicago Bears as well as Illinois Fighting Illini football for Follow him on Twitter: @Thor1323

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