New QB Tommy DeVito Key to Illini Making a Bowl Again in 2022

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It’s not hard to pinpoint where Illini football really went wrong in 2021- the quarterback position. Brandon Peters was very up and down, and overall, he just plain regressed this past season. There really is no explanation for this other than to say the new system, under a new coordinator, didn’t suit him.
You knew the Illini needed a QB from the transfer market, yet again, and they got one in Syracuse man Tommy DeVito. Betway’s odds of the Illini making a bowl game will be long again, when they come out this summer. If their QB play doesn’t improve, they won’t overcome those certain to be long odds. Just like Peters and Artur Sitkowski, who was maybe better than Peters but then again not really noticeably enough better, DeVito transfers in from a school in the Eastern time zone.

Like Sitkowski and Peters, he was a very highly recruited high school player, and a four star recruit. If the name Tommy DeVito sounds like a character in a Martin Scorcese film, like somebody who might actually know the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa, well, that’s because it is.
Yes, in Goodfellas, the secondary antagonist, played by Joe Pesci, is named Tommy DeVito. But the real reason his name sounds so familiar?
There was a member of the Four Seasons with the same name, and he passed away just last year at the age of 92 in Las Vegas.
He was also a villain of sorts, at least in the manner he was portrayed in Clint Eastwood’s 2014 film “Jersey Boys.” (And as the fictionalized Tommy DeVito says to the camera in the final scene, these days (present day at the the time the film was made) he works for Pesci in real life, the actor who portrayed the fictional Tommy DeVito.
It all comes full circle for this real life Jersey boy, and now DeVito seems fun and interesting already, and while he hasn’t even thrown a pass in an Illini uniform yet.
He’ll retain orange and blue at his new school, and Cuse fans were really excited when the blue chip prospect from the highly heralded Don Bosco Prep School in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, he really didn’t come close to fulfilling those massive expectations, for a multitude of reasons, mostly because he had a poor OL in front of him most of the time. DeVito never really had a fair shot, because he just had too many injuries to deal with. His own, plus the injuries to those around him.
He lost his gig to Garrett Shrader, who is much more mobile. DeVito honestly could be great though, provided there is a good offensive line in front of him. Maybe that happens in Champaign, given how Head Coach Bret Bielema has prioritized that in recruiting.
His first class focused on rebuilding that position group, which was often lacking this past season.
The infamous comments that Bielema made about his roster, the not actually controversial controversy that landed him in hot water, pointed out the weaknesses in the OL. Bielema called out his (lack of) depth chart specifically, but it seemed to work as a good motivational tactic as the Illini responded with their biggest win of the year, on the road at top ten Penn State.
DeVito passed for 2,360 yards in 2019 and 593 in the first four games of 2020, but 2021 didn’t go his way and he left a program that finished with the same record as Illinois, and suffered equally with their sputtering passing offense. Maybe that changes now, as he reunites with former SYR OC and WRs coach George McDonald-Ashford.
The Illini had a decent running game, and an okay defense, in 2021.
It was the air attack that held them back, and now we’ll see if Tommy DeVito is the guy, or not, to bridge the gap and make this program finally have a winning season. That hasn’t happened since 2011.

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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