The 90 Illini #34: Artur Sitkowski

Jul 25, 2021

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I wrote about this in his LLUOI post, but I'll say it again: I'm not sure any Illini transfer has grown on me more than Sitkowski. When I heard the news, I was a bit confused. An already crowded QB room and we're adding the guy who was famous for interceptions at Rutgers? Now, I'm wondering if he's our starting quarterback in 2022 and 2023. And {whispers} maybe even 2021?

I know I know - if I'm going to say something like that I shouldn't whisper it. But seriously - what if he wins the job this fall? No really - what if?

34. Artur Sitkowski

Uniform number: 9
Year in school: Sophomore (without the Covid waiver, 2 years to play 2; with the Covid waiver, technically 3 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-5" -- Weight: 225 lbs.
Hometown: Old Bridge, New Jersey
Former School: Rutgers
Five best offers: Ohio State, Michigan, LSU, Florida, Miami
Tom Cruise rating:

2020 statistics: Played in 4 games at Rutgers, 2 starts. 52-81 for 444 yards and 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.


The roller coaster background for Sitkowski:

  • 4-star high school QB who switches to IMG Academy to add more prep work to his stellar prep record.
  • Turns down LSU and Ohio State and picks home-state Rutgers. At the time, he's seen as their savior.
  • That doesn't last long - he's thrown to the (nittany) lions as a true freshman and throws 18 interceptions.
  • Rutgers changes offenses in 2019 and Sitkowski goes to the bench while running QB Johnny Langan takes over.
  • In 2020 (Greg Schiano's first season) Rutgers brings in Nebraska transfer Noah Vedral as their QB. Sitkowski is the backup.
  • But when Vedral has injury issues, Sitkowski starts 2 games, leads Rutgers to an upset win at Purdue, and freshman year "get this kid out of there he's an interception machine" becomes "maybe Sitkowski is better than Vedral in this offense?" among the Rutgers fanbase.
  • In the offseason, he enters the transfer portal and ends up at Illinois.

So he's one of two quarterbacks:

  1. 4-star bust who proved with his 18 interceptions as a freshman that Power Five football is too much for him.
  2. 4-star recruit pushed into service when he wasn't ready as a true freshman and now, just like some redshirt QB somewhere waiting his turn, he's ready to show why he was a four-star.

2021 Outlook

First off, he's very fortunate to have three more years of eligibility. Had he entered college football in 2016, he'd only have one year of eligibility remaining. He entered in 2018, so he has three more years. How? Until 2018, if you played at all, you used a year of eligibility. Now, after the rule change in 2018, you can play in up to four games and still redshirt. Then, in 2020, Covid came along and everyone got a free year of eligibility.

So let's go through both scenarios. Had he started in 2016, he would have played in 11 games as a freshman (one year used), played in 3 games as a sophomore (two years used), played in 4 games as a junior (three years used), and then would have transferred somewhere else with 2 years to play one more season on the field. A senior who technically could still redshirt but could only play one more season.

Instead, he entered college football in 2018. He started 11 games that year (one year used), and then only played in three games in 2019 (redshirt year). He did play in 2020, but it didn't count towards anyone's eligibility. Now he takes advantage of the transfer rule (also new) to be eligible right away at Illinois. And instead of being a senior, he's a sophomore with 3 years to play 3 seasons on the field.

Where does he fit? Ask me in a month. Honestly, I could see myself writing an "are we sure Sitkowski isn't the starter?" article in the next four weeks. Brandon Peters is most likely the starter, but there's two of him now. Two 4-star quarterbacks who started as freshman at Big Ten East schools and then eventually transferred to Illinois. The starter is almost certainly Peters, but, uh, what if Sitkowski wins the starting job?


WHWizard on July 25, 2021 @ 09:41 PM

Robert, Any chance to get a rundown on the daily schedule for training camp and IF fans can come to watch. It's only about a week away, can we believe that?

Robert on July 26, 2021 @ 03:16 PM

Nothing has been announced yet. My guess is that the delay is to keep the backlash to a minimum after "no fans, no media, no nothing" is announced. I don't know that to be the case yet, but it feels inevitable.

And to be clear, that's not a Covid thing. I'm under the impression that Coach Bielema will only hold practices in the stadium and that no fans or media will be allowed. He's said several times that he wants to maximize their chances of giving Nebraska nothing to prepare for.

IlliniBobLoblaw on July 26, 2021 @ 09:28 AM

The starter is almost certainly Peters, but, uh, what if Sitkowski wins the starting job?

Worst case scenario here is if Sitkowski wins the job...mid-season.

Illinimac68 on August 29, 2021 @ 12:04 AM

Prescient. He’s the starter now and maybe for the rest of the year.

Illinimac68 on August 29, 2021 @ 12:04 AM

Prescient. He’s the starter now and maybe for the rest of the year.

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