When Brandon Dawkins announced his decision to transfer from Arizona on Twitter, Illinois fans immediately flooded his mentions.
“Bring those talents to Illinois!” one fan tweeted. “Your one year might just turn an entire program around!”
Dawkins to Illinois might seem like an unusual fit — the grad transfer is from California and has lived in Hawaii — but the Illini hired Rod Smith this offseason. Smith, of course, was Dawkins’ quarterbacks coach all throughout his Arizona career and was hired by Illinois after Rich Rodriguez was fired.
And there is a real chance Dawkins follows him there. The former UA quarterback told Jeremy Warner of IlliniInquirer.com that Smith is “really on me” and that “I definitely see (Illinois) as a possibility.”
Dawkins added that he hopes to visit the school in the spring. (If you are a premium member of 247Sports, you can read more about it here).
Arizona grad-transfer QB Brandon Dawkins tells Illini Inquirer that #illini OC Rod Smith is "really on me" and that "I definitely see (Illinois) as a possibility." Hopes to visit this spring. Much more detail and insight in this VIP update:https://t.co/Co0NYGPrPa pic.twitter.com/eEyWyPNqsr— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) February 25, 2018
Illinois went 2-10 in 2017, with the 127th scoring offense (of 130) in the nation.
The Illini are only returning one quarterback who threw a pass in 2017, and that is freshman Cam Thomas who was 28-for-66 with five interceptions (and zero touchdowns) in four games. (He did run for 233 yards, though.)
So not only would Dawkins be reuniting with his former quarterbacks coach at Illinois, he would have a tremendous chance to win the starting job there as well.
Obviously that will be an important factor in Dawkins’ decision, since he only has one year of eligibility remaining.
Dawkins isn’t a great passer, but Illinois finished 122nd in the country in rushing offense, so he can definitely help them in that area. The soon-to-be redshirt senior averaged 6.7 yards per carry in 2017, including eight rushing touchdowns.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire