Fitzgerald leaves Illinois football

Jimmy+Fitzgerald%2C+out+of+Centennial+High+School+in+Champaign%2C+commits+to+Illinois+on+National+Signing+Day+on+Wednesday.
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Fitzgerald leaves Illinois football

Jimmy Fitzgerald, out of Centennial High School in Champaign, commits to Illinois on National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Jimmy Fitzgerald, out of Centennial High School in Champaign, commits to Illinois on National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Jimmy Fitzgerald, out of Centennial High School in Champaign, commits to Illinois on National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Jimmy Fitzgerald, out of Centennial High School in Champaign, commits to Illinois on National Signing Day on Wednesday.

By Charlotte Carroll, Sports editor

Illinois head football coach Lovie Smith announced Wednesday that redshirt freshman quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald will be leaving the program.

“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 press release. “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.”

Fitzgerald is a Champaign native and graduated Centennial High School early to join the Illini in the 2015 spring.

With Fitzgerald’s departure, Illinois is left with three quarterbacks on scholarship: senior Wes Lunt, sophomore Chase Crouch and redshirt freshman Jeff George, Jr.

“I met with Jimmy Tuesday evening and we discussed his future as he has decided to leave our program,” 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.”

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@charlottecrrll